James Tissot: The Life of Christ


James Tissot:The Life of Christ is the first comprehensive exploration of The Life of Christ - his monumental series of 350 watercolours, combining fantastic imagery with archaeological observation and vivid realism.

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James Tissot:The Life of Christ is the first comprehensive exploration of The Life of Christ - his monumental series of 350 watercolours, combining fantastic imagery with archaeological observation and vivid realism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781858944968
  • Publisher: Merrell Publishers, LTD
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 604,613
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith F. Dolkart is Associate Curator, European Art, at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. David Morgan is Professor of Religion at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Amy Sitar is a PhD student in the Department of Religion at Princeton University, New Jersey.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2009

    complete series of 350 paintings with essays

    James Tissot (1833-1902) was a nineteenth-century French painter who for the first part of his career had a reputation as a "French society painter [whose subjects were] the costumes and manners, occupations and pleasures of the French capital's elegantes." This all changed in the early 1890s when Tissot renewed his ties to the Catholicism of his youth after experiencing a vision during a Mass when the priest raised the host. For the rest of his life, he devoted himself to the series of religious paintings numbering in the hundreds given here. Tissot's lasting reputation rests on this series The Life of Christ on all periods of Jesus Christ's life from the Annunciation to the Resurrection.

    Books reproducing this series were published in France and the United States. In 1900 after a tour in the U.S., the complete series came into the possession of the Brooklyn Museum.

    Tissot's paintings were popular not only for their religious subject coinciding with a rise in religious feelings and interests in late Victorian-era America and pre-World War I Europe, but also for their straightforward style. The paintings are in an illustration style; similar to ones seen in periodicals and illustrated books of the period. They reflect no inklings of impressionism or any of the other budding modern art styles of Tissot's day. One sees in them some harbingers of the art of N. C. Wyeth and other illustrators of the following decades. In Tissot's paintings though one occasionally sees symbols such as pale, ghostly hands reaching across a pool of water or dark wings for Satan; and occasionally an aura around Jesus's head. But the effects of the paintings are mostly in the coloration creating mood, poses (often dramatic) of the central figures, and the setting of the scene as if in a play.

    An appreciative and enthusiastic public was attracted to Tissot's paintings by their details of "landscape, architecture, vegetation, costumes, and customs of the Holy Land." This gave the paintings an exotic appearance arousing curiosity and myriad points of interest with their evocation of spirituality.

    Tissot's aim was to "revivify the imagination of modern Europeans and Americans by depicting the life of Jesus in scenes that departed from visual conventions, but not entirely." The sheer number of paintings picturing incidents from the life of Christ and also related Holy Land scenes and figures was a visual biography which was as educating as it was visually engaging. With the hundreds of paintings grouped into major parts of the life of Christ (e. g., The Ministry, The Passion) mostly two to a page, today's readers can have the same experience. Essays preceding the sections of paintings go into the social context making Tissot's project such a sensation in its day and also how it was eventually acquired despite some opposition on financial and religious grounds by the Brooklyn museum.

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    Posted April 29, 2010

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    Posted February 13, 2010

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