Monday, January 4, 2010

Picture of the Week No.5 - James Tissot

Happy New Year from all at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum! We're hoping this is going to be a fantastic year for all our development plans, and with some fantastic exhibitions and events at the musuem and the new Bedford Gallery exhibition space planned its going to be a memorable year. The first 8 months of Bedford Gallery have been fantastic with great responses to Treasures, Abram Games and Edward Bawden exhibitions and its first birthday in April will come round quickly. Please feel free to comment on this blog about the exhibitions or your experiences of the new space. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook too, links are on the righthand side of the page. Here's one of my favourites for the first Picture of the Week for 2010. KP

James J. TISSOT (1836 - 1902)
The Trafalgar Tavern, 1878

etching & drypoint, 35 ´ 24.8 cm (plate)
39.5 ´ 28.8 cm (sheet)
inscribed: in plate J.J Tissot 1878

Accession no: P.508
PROVENANCE: Leicester Galleries, from whom purchased by Gallery, 1965.
EXHIBITED: London, Leicester Galleries, 1972.
REFERENCES: N. R. Marshall & M. Warner, James Tissot, Victorian Life/Modern Love, 1999, pp68, no.22, illus.
NOTES: 2nd of 2 states.

Tissot's interest in printmaking began in Paris in 1860. In the space of two years he created five small portrait prints, including one of his friend and fellow artist Edgar DEGAS. His introduction to etching most probably came about through his circle of friends at this time, most notably WHISTLER, MANET, and FANTIN-LATOUR amongst others, all of whom were keen etchers.

In 1877 Tissot had published a portfolio of ten of his prints, possibly as a response to Whistler's Thames Set, 1871. Tissot's group differed somewhat from Whistler's as he also included other prints not directly related to the Thames, including The Rubens Hat and Ramsgate. His graphic work varied considerably in subject matter, including versions of successful oil paintings, views of the Thames, a series based on his experiences during the Paris Commune (Souvenir du si├Ęge de Paris, c.1882/3) and also more contemplative portraits of his mistress Helen Newton, and the garden at his studio house at Grove End, St John's Wood. Tissot often re-worked the plates quite heavily between states; in the Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich for example, the first state has a 'clear' sky, whereas in the second state (as here) the sky has become overcast and 'stormy'.


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