A prolific painter-printer at the end of the nineteenth century, James Tissot (1836-1902) has nevertheless eluded many art history books. His recognition suffers from his own individualism. Though friends with some of the most renowned artists of the age, Tissot never formally belonged to any schools or avant-garde circles. Art historians struggle to find a place for him as the traditional labels both apply and fail to satisfy. A similar dichotomy defined the artist’s life and work. Born in France, Tissot was an anglophile, even changing his birth name Jacques-Joseph to the more English James; but throughout his stay in England, he never escaped the label “French.” The influx of Japanese prints and the innovation of photography influenced Tissot along with the most avant-garde artists of Paris; but unlike the Impressionists, Tissot insisted on an Academic finish to his paintings, which found a place in the Salons of Paris and London. The duality of his talents, character, and experiences all contributed to his unique and wide-ranging oeuvre.
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