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Inspirational Artists: James Tissot

The scenes of Victorian ladies in their finery alongside seam on a bustling River Thames may appear to gloss over the dirt and reality that existed at the time but are images so clean and engaging that one can't help but admire them.

Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 1902), was born in the port town of Nantes, France and spent his early childhood there. The involvement of his parents in the fashion industry clearly gave Tissot the eye and ability to capture the fold and hang of the dresses of the time. At 17, he knew he wanted to pursue painting as a career and adopted the name James Tissot.

Around 1857, Tissot travelled to Paris to pursue an education in art and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and he met James McNeill Whistler, Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet.. He exhibited in the Paris Salon for the first time in 1859. In 1863 three paintings by Tissot were displayed at the London gallery of Ernest Gambart and he started to paint portraits and everyday scence of the time. Tissot fought in the Franco-Prussian War as part of the improvised defence of Paris, but left Paris for London in 1871.

Tissot quickly developed his reputation as a painter of elegantly dressed women shown in scenes of fashionable life.and his paintings appealed greatly to wealthy British industrialists during the second half of the 19th century.

In 1874, Degas asked him to join them in the first exhibition organised by the artists who became known as the Impressionists, but Tissot refused. He continued to be close to these artists and he regularly saw Whistler, who influenced his Thames river scenes.

After the death of his companion Kathleen Newton he returned to Paris. Tissot died suddenly in Doubs, France on 8 August 1902, while living in the Château de Buillon, a former abbey which he had inherited from his father in 1888.

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