Sunday, November 11, 2007


James Tissot (1836-1902) give us a glossy and accurate mirror image of European high society. He was at home both in Paris, where he lived and exhibited in the 1860s, and in London, where he spent a professionally successful decade after the fall of the Paris Commune in 1871. Tissot's art belongs to an international milieu of high fashion on both sides of the Channel, today he would depict people wearing Dior, Vuitton and others luxurious fashionable items.

This painting that should be called Banc de Jardin pour Riches considering the expensive fur skin which has been pulled on the bench represents his mistress Mrs Kathleen Newton and her kids. The phrase "Social Realism" is usually applied to art that reveals truths about the oppressed working class, but it would seem no less applicable to Tissot's documentary revelations about high society in the 1860s and 1870s. However to be realistic this Social Realism should be dubbed Capitalist Realism.

This Social Realistic picture was sold in 1983 for $842,000 (£561,000).The descendants of the people in the picture probably bought it to have a closer and better look at their glorious ancestors.

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