James Tissot
French painter and illustrator



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James Tissot
French painter and illustrator
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Birth Date

October 15, 1836

Death Date

August 08, 1902

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Painter of fashionable women, surprisingly not an Impressionist.

Born Jacques Joseph Tissot on October 15, 1836, in Nantes, France, and better known by the anglicized version of his name, James Tissot is known for his detailed and charming depictions of fashionable women and the daily life of the European upper crust. It’s no wonder he paid so much attention to clothes in his paintings, seeing as papa was was drapery merchant and maman dabbled in making hats. Tissot left Nantes in 1856 to train at the illustrious École des Beaux-Arts. While in Paris, young Jacques Joseph hung out with the likes of James Abbott Mcneill Whistler and Edgar Degas. Likely looking for a slightly punchier moniker, it was around this time that Tissot began to use the English version of his first name, James.

Tissot hit the road in the 1860, traveling to Italy and London. Tissot would ultimately find a large market for his work within London high society, exhibiting artwork at the Royal Academy of Art. He fully assimilated into English life, styling himself as somewhat of a dandy and taking up residence in a classic English mansion with an extensive garden that he frequently used as a setting for his work. His traditionally composed and executed scenes appealed to English patrons, and even though he was familiar with Impressionism, and shares influences from Japanese art, Tissot seemed to like to stick to the classics in terms of his style and rendering. Turns out playing it safe was pretty lucrative, and his more traditional style avoided the ire of the critics that so frequently plagued the Impressionists.

It was during his time in England that he met his mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton, an Irish divorcee. Her delicate features and red hair captured his attention, and she and her family appear in many of his paintings. Kathleen died in arguably the most Victorian way possible, first contracting tuberculosis and then committing suicide via laudanum overdose in 1882. After her death, Tissot’s work was never the same again, and he eventually shifted gears to producing religious paintings after a return to the church. Incidentally, his paintings of bible stories were more well known in the years immediately after his death, though today his depictions of fashionably dressed beautiful women are more famous.



  1. "Biography of James Jacques Joseph Tissot." James Jacques Joseph Tissot - The Complete Works. Accessed October 03, 2018.
  2. Isaacs, Deanna. "James Tissot's Tragic Muse." Chicago Reader. August 19, 2013. Accessed October 03, 2018.
  3. Misfeldt, Willard E. "Tissot, James." Grove Art Online. 2003. Accessed October 03, 2018.
  4. "Tissot, James." Benezit Dictionary of Artists. March 26, 2018. Accessed October 03, 2018.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about James Tissot

Jacques Joseph Tissot (French: [tiso]; 15 October 1836 – 8 August 1902), Anglicized as James Tissot (/ˈtɪs/), was a French painter and illustrator. He was a successful painter of Paris society before moving to London in 1871. He became famous as a genre painter of fashionably dressed women shown in various scenes of everyday life. He also painted scenes and characters from the Bible.

Early life

Jacques Tissot was born in the port town of Nantes, France and spent his early childhood there. His father, Marcel Théodore Tissot, was a successful drapery merchant. His mother, Marie Durand, assisted her husband in the family business and designed hats. A devout Catholic, Tissot's mother instilled pious devotion in the future artist from a very young age. Tissot's youth spent in Nantes likely contributed to his frequent depiction of shipping vessels and boats in his later works. The involvement of his parents in the fashion industry is believed to have been an influence on his painting style, as he depicted women's clothing in fine detail. By the time Tissot was 17, he knew he wanted to pursue painting as a career. His father opposed this, preferring his son to follow a business profession, but the young Tissot gained his mother's support for his chosen vocation. Around this time, he began using the given name of James. By 1854 he was commonly known as James Tissot; he may have adopted it because of his increasing interest in everything English.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about James Tissot.