Jacques Joseph Tissot

Dates1836 - 1902

Jacques Joseph Tissot was born in Nantes, a port city located where the Loire River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. When Tissot turned twenty in 1856, he moved to Paris to study with Louis Lamothe and Hippolyte Flandrin; three years later he made his well-received Salon debut. Though he lived in Paris, Tissot's caricature drawings frequently appeared in the popular English magazine Vanity Fair. After France's devastating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Tissot relocated to London, where his established ties with Vanity Fair and its influential publisher served him well. There, Tissot painted scenes of leisure and fashionable social occasions, such as couples strolling and fancy-dress balls, which were regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. Toward the close of the 1870s, Tissot explored a renewed interest in printmaking and, partly inspired by an appreciation for Japanese metalwork, began producing cloisonné enamels.

After his wife's death in 1882, Tissot returned to Paris, where he experimented with pastels and became popular as a portrait painter. The focus of Tissot's artwork shifted dramatically three years later, after he supposedly saw his dead wife at a séance. From then on, he devoted himself to religious subjects, making several trips to the Holy Land to do research. Before dying in 1902, Tissot completed 365 illustrations for the Life of Christ. Though he was initially remembered for his Bible illustrations, Tissot's depictions of fashionable life in the Victorian era are now regarded as his most significant work.