JAMES JACQUES TISSOT (French 1836-1902)
    Renée Mauperin: Renée and Reverchon Swimming in the Seine
    Oil on paper laid down on canvas [en brunaille], circa 1881-82
    15 x 11 inches (38.1 x 27.9 cm)
    Signed lower right: J. Jacques Tissot

    Sotheby's, New York, October 24, 1996, lot 373

    Michael Justin Wentworth, James Tissot: Catalogue Raisonné of His Prints, Minneapolis, 1978, p. 256-277 (illustrations to Renée Mauperin).

    Tissot produced an etching of this painting, in reverse, that served as the frontispiece to a limited edition printing of the novel Reneé Mauperin by Edmond and Jules de Goncourt. The etching derived from the present preliminary study was one of ten original etchings Tissot produced to illustrate the special 1884 edition of the Goncourt brothers' 1875 novel which was published by G. Charpentier et Cie, Paris in a run of 500 numbered copies.

    Tissot's choice to illustrate this particular work by the Goncourts was likely driven by powerful personal circumstances. The Goncourts' story chronicles the inexorable decline and ultimate death of Reneé Mauperin from tuberculosis, which paralleled the fearful condition of Tissot's greatest, and ultimately most tragic love, his mistress Kathleen Newton, who had been the inspiration for some of the artist's very finest works, including over two dozen of his most accomplished etchings. Their affair was profound and passionate. She had married a surgeon Isaac Newton in India in 1871, but having confessed to a continuing liaison with a Captain Palliser they were divorced the same year. In late 1871, back in England, Kathleen had a daughter Violet by Palliser but did not continue the relationship. In 1876 she had a son, George, and it was in the same year that she started to live with Tissot. Whether Tissot was George's father is not known. However from 1876 she and Tissot shared an intense and deeply loving life together.

    Because Newton's past was seen as disreputable by Victorian standards, her life with Tissot had to be hidden from the public eye. In Tissot's large house and garden in north London they created a private world together. This private world is the atmospheric background to many of Tissot's compositions of this period.

    In the autumn of 1882, shortly after Tissot created the present work, Kathleen died of consumption at the age of 28. After her death, a shattered Tissot returned to his native Paris, and after producing his illustrations for Reneé Mauperin largely abandoned graphic work entirely, working nearly exclusively on illustrating the Old and New Testaments. On November 15, 1882, Edmond de Goncourt recorded in his journal a visit from Tissot, freshly back from England:'Visite, ce matin, de Tissot arrivé dans la nuite d'Angleterre et que me dit, dans le conversation, être très affecté de la mort de la Mauperin anglaise, qui, déjà bien souffrante, lui avait servi de modèle pour l'illustration de mon livre.'

    Recent scholarship has revealed that Tissot's etchings for Renée Mauperin, and by extension this surviving painting made prior to the etched frontispiece, were apparently based upon photographs Tissot had taken as compositional "sketches." Although only one photograph survives (collection of Marita Ross, London), it shows Tissot and Kathleen Newton seated on a bench and closely relates to the etching of Renée and her father sitting in the porch of the Church at Morimond (Wentworth, cat. no. 70). As Michael Wentworth has noted, the Mauperin etchings as a group possess formal qualities that strongly point to a "photographic origin." Apart from technical issues, the presence of Kathleen Newton in the single extant photograph connected directly with this project documents a tangible, not simply an associative relationship with it.

    This work is presented in an ornate gilt Rococo frame.

    Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Very good condition.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    6th-7th Thursday-Friday
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