James Jacques Joseph Tissot-
France Neoclassicism (1836-1902)
Montreal Museum of Arts, Montreal, Canada
Oil on canvas
216 x 108.7 cm (85 x 42 3/4 in.)
Gift of Lord Strathcona and Family
Did Sargent know James Tissot in any capacity?
It is a good question because James J. J. Tissot is an important French painter and there are countless references and cross references between the people they mutually knew. But there really isn’t much to document the two being very close.
Certainly, Sargent traveled in and around Paris and within the same circles in the 1870’s and 1880’s. But Tissot was older – a full twenty years older and Tissot was far more established than the younger American in those formative years. If they knew each other, it was probably only very casually – this apparently would also be the case later in life. I can’t find anything that puts the two together. I would guess they probably had met – and maybe multiple times – but there is nothing that ties them as friends.
One thing is clear, and that is the younger artist (Sargent) admired the elder artist and appreciated him enough that in 1900, Sargent played a pivotal roll in getting the Brooklyn Museum to acquire more than four hundred of Tissot’s gouache illustrations of New Testament scenes. This, at a time when Sargent himself was contemplating his own New Testament scenes for the 2nd instillation of the Boston Public Library murals (1903).
Now I haven’t seen these gouache illustrations, and I don’t know the particulars of the transaction or how Sargent came to know about them (Annette Blaugrund references it in a footnote). Possibly, Tissot showed them to Sargent – but for so many reasons it would be interesting to compare these drawings to what Sargent did at the Library to see if there is anything Sargent might have gleamed.
In any case, Tissot was a major force in French art, and although he is often lumped with the Realists, by the 1870’s that French Impressionist influences were working its way into Tissot’s portraits such as the background of “October”. That Tissot's art influenced Sargent is quite probable and has even been sited as a possible influence for Sargent’s painting of "Madame Edouard Pailleron," 1879
See paintings in Juxtaposition: