Thursday, September 5, 2013

James Jacques Joseph Tissot - Study of Kathleen Newton in a Thames-side Tavern oil on panel

Tissot had met the young Mrs. Newton some time in 1875-76 and was immediately smitten. Kathleen Newton was a divorcée and it was impossible for Tissot, a devout Roman Catholic, to marry her, but they lived very happily as man and wife, and she became the principal subject of much of his work.

The riverside view in the present study is of the Thames at Greenwich, with the Royal Hospital building in the distance. The wooden chairs with rounded back and arms here also appear in the Departure, the first picture in Tissot's series The Prodigal Son. There is also an unfinished and partly rubbed-out figure of a seated man on the left, which may be the elderly man who features, partly hidden behind a newspaper, in Room overlooking the Harbour, and as the father in the Departure. Tissot may have abandoned the study or reworked it into an unknown composition (Tissot's photograph record album of his oil paintings for this period is missing). Tissot's usual working practice was to make rapid colour oil studies of compositions on board or canvas prepared with a red-brown ground. Soem of these paintings are known for finished oil paintings, while others seem unrelated to finished works. 

We are grateful to Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz for confirming the authenticity of this work and for preparing this catalogue entry.

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