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Title The Convalescent
Collection Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust
Artist Tissot, James (French painter and printmaker, 1836-1902)
Date Earliest probably about 1875
Date Latest probably about 1880
Signed yes

Tissot was hugely admired in France and the Britain and this is one of his best-known pictures. It evokes, with telling detail and great sensitivity to atmosphere, an autumn afternoon as a setting for a story which is suggested rather than told. Is the young woman convalescing or is her illness, as the autumnal mood might suggest, terminal? Is she bored? Or has she fallen asleep after tea as the older woman reads aloud? Is the man's hat on the seat that of the young woman's husband or suitor? The fall of light on the paving by the pool and through the yellowing leaves suggests fragility and time as well as functioning compositionally balancing the creams of the young woman's dress.

The model for this painting was Tissot's mistress Kathleen Newton a divorcee and only 23 years old when she meet Tissot. She appears in several of his paintings. Mrs Newton was very ill with tuberculosis and died in 1882. After her death Tissot left London and returned to Paris. The background of the picture was Tissot's own large garden of 17 Grove End Road in St John's Wood, where he lived from 1873. The garden, including the impressive cast-iron colonnade, the pool and the chestnut tree, appears in a number of his pictures. Tissot studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris under Lamonthe, Flandrin and Ingres. He is best known for his scenes of fasionable contemporary life in the Victorian era.

Current Accession Number 2213
Inscription front ll 'J. J. Tissot'
Subject landscape; figure
Measurements 116.6 x 93.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased by Graves Art Gallery 1949.
Provenance Anonymous sale, Christie's, 1949, lot 87, bought by the Fine Art Society; bought by Graves Art Gallery.
Publications Bénézit, E. (ed.),Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs Paris,1976; Thieme, U., Becker, F. (ed.) Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Leipzig, 1980-86.
Notes The garden appears, for example, in The Holyday (Tate Gallery, no. 4413). An etching of the pool and colonnade, dated 1878, can be found in St Marylebone Public Library. The painting should not be confused with the painting A Convalescent, in Mancester City Art Gallery, which shows an elderly gentlemen being wheeled in a bathchair.
Rights Owner Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust
Author Katia Mai



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