FINE ARTS

James Tissot

Prestel. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9783791359199. $75. FINE ARTS
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Accompanying an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts on the 19th-century, Anglo-French artist James Tissot (1836–1902), this book by the director of the museum’s art division Buron, and other experts, demonstrates how Tissot defies categorization as either an impressionist or realist artist. Aspects of Tissot’s oeuvre going beyond his best-known paintings of ladies in elaborate dress that reflect the manners and mores of Victorian London and belle epoque Paris are also explored. These include Tissot’s lesser-known late religious works illustrating the Old and New Testaments, which made him famous during his lifetime; the reception of his prints; and his work in the medium of enamel. Technical studies by conservators using X-radiograph technology give insights into the artist’s painting methods and use of pigments and materials. Newly discovered primary source material, such as Tissot’s sales notebooks from 1857 to 1890, and a repository of photographs from personal albums shed light on his financial success as an artist and aid in dating and identifying the works.
VERDICT With beautiful color plates, a detailed chronology of Tissot’s life, and short, accessible essays, this is recommended for general readers interested in 19th–century painting, as well as the specialist looking for new and more detailed information on the artist.

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