Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902)

Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902)

Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902)

The images for the new Canadian edition of the Roman Missal are based on the work of Jacques Joseph Tissot.

Here is some information you can share on his life and work.

Tissot was born on October 15 in Nantes, France, a port town western France, located on the LoireRiver. Nantes was an important international shipping port, being only 50 km from the Atlantic coast. This was an important influence on the setting for many of his paintings. He was born into the family of a merchant, but that was not to be his calling. At the age of 20 he left Nantes for Paris to develop his natural gift as a painter. There he became a pupil of Louis Lamothe and Hippolyte Flandrin at the École des Beaux Arts. The formation he received there was important, but as important was his informal training. He was part of Paris society and became friends with and a disciple of Manet, Degas, and Whistler.

In the unrest that filled Paris in 1871 he left for London, where he lived for 11 years, until 1882. During this time he anglicized his first name and so is often also known as James Tissot. Critics of his work spoke negatively of his colourization technique – saying that his portraits were too much like colour photographs. This reception by the critics could still be debated now, but there is no arguing with the great success he experienced in his lifetime. He was very much in demand. Our artists at the CCCB have used a duotone process to keep his skill as a sketch artist and for his use of shading, while leaving his colours aside.

Until his return to Paris, his faith was not a major element in his work. In the mid-1880’s, though, he had a powerful religious conversion. From that time until his death he became known as one of the most talented painters of biblical scenes. Tissot visited the Holy Land twice. He first went in 1886-87 and then returned in 1889. During these visits he studied the land and its people. For this reason, the characters, the garments and the settings for his images have a strong sense of realism about them. The BrooklynMuseum, upon seeing the popular reaction to a series of 350 of his paintings, purchased them for $60,000, then an enormous sum. It is from this period in his life that we take our images.

The images in the Missal are a summary of the life of Christ, from the Annunciation and Nativity of Jesus as well as the visit of the Magi, through his preaching and to the saving events of the Passion and Resurrection. The images of the Last Supper and Crucifixion are especially powerful; the crucifixion scene will be placed in the traditional spot at the beginning of the Roman Canon.

Tissot lived to see the new century, and died in Buillon, France on August 8 in 1902.

There are several websites that allow you to judge the work of Tissot for yourself.