James Tissot: “The Life of Christ”

Brooklyn Museum of Art

Friday 23 October 2009 to Sunday 17 January 2010
This exhibition includes 124 watercolors selected from a set of 350 detailed illustrations of the New Testament by the nineteenth-century French artist James Tissot (1836–1902). It marks the first time in nearly twenty years that any of the Tissot watercolors, a pivotal acquisition that entered the collection in 1900, have been on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

Born in France, Tissot had a successful artistic career in Paris and London painting society. In 1882, he began work on a set of paintings depicting the costumes and manners of fashionable Parisian women. While visiting the church of Saint-Sulpice, he experienced a religious vision, after which he embarked on his ambitious project to illustrate the New Testament.

Tissot created his precisely rendered watercolors of the life of Christ with the same meticulous attention to detail that he had applied to painting society. He strove for historical authenticity, making expeditions to the Middle East to record the landscape, architecture, costumes, and customs of the Holy Land, convinced that the region had remained unchanged since Jesus’ time.

The exhibition includes a wide range of works from the series, from sweeping topographical scenes such as Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod to a remarkable tableau of Golgotha as seen from the vantage point of Jesus himself, entitled What Our Lord Saw from the Cross. In addition, there are highly dramatic and often mystical images, such as Jesus Ministered to by Angels and The Grotto of the Agony.

In 1900, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences decided to purchase the series for $60,000, which was raised by public subscription. The sheer number of watercolors increased the Museum’s art collection by several times. Since the 1930s, in part because of conservation concerns, they have been shown only rarely and in small exhibitions, most recently from late 1989 to early 1990.

James Tissot: “The Life of Christ” is organized for the Brooklyn Museum by Judith F. Dolkart, Associate Curator, European Art.

This exhibition is made possible in part with a generous award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Location

Brooklyn Museum of Art
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn Precinct
New York
United States
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The Annunciation[i/], 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 6 11/16 x 8 9/16 in. (17 x 21.7 cm).
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The Sojourn in Egypt, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 6 11/16 x 8 3/16 in. (17 x 20.8 cm).
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Portrait of the Pilgrim, 1886-96
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Thomas E. Kirby 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on wove paper. 9 1/16 x 5 5/8 in. (23 x 14.3 cm)
Young Jesus walks towards viewer
The Youth of Jesus, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 8 13/16 x 5 9/16 in. (22.4 x 14.1 cm).
Angels touch Jesus' body
Jesus Ministered to by Angels, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 6 11/16 x 9 3/4 in. (17 x 24.8 cm)
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Jesus Unrolls the Book in the Synagogue, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 10 9/16 x 7 9/16 in. (26.8 x 19.2 cm)
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Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 11 1/4 x 6 3/16 in. (28.6 x 15.7 cm).
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Ordaining of the Twelve Apostles, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 6 11/16 x 10 9/16 in. (17 x 26.8 cm).
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The Sermon of the Beatitudes, 1886-96
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 9 5/8 x 6 7/16 in. (24.4 x 16.4 cm)
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The Daughter of Herodias Dancing, 1886-96
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 9 5/16 x 7 5/16 in. (23.7 x 18.6 cm)
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The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, 1886-96
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 7 3/8 x 10 9/16 in. (18.7 x 26.8 cm)
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Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 11 3/8 x 6 1/4 in. (28.9 x 15.9 cm)
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The Magdalene Before Her Conversion, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 11 1/16 x 5 1/2 in. (28.1 x 14 cm)
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The Lord's Prayer, 1886-96
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 8 1/2 x 6 7/16 in. (21.6 x 16.4 cm)
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The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 Australia
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 8 11/16 x 5 1/2 in. (22.1 x 14 cm)
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The Grotto of the Agony, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on dark brown wove paper. 11 1/16 x 14 7/16 in. (28.1 x 36.7 cm)
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What Our Lord Saw from the Cross, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green wove paper. 9 ¾ x 9 1/16 in. (24.8 x 23 cm)
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Jesus Looking through a Lattice, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 5 11/16 x 6 15/16 in. (14.4 x 17.6 cm)
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The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor on gray wove paper. 6 1/2 x 8 in. (16.5 x 20.3 cm).
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The Magi Journeying, 1886-94
© All rights reserved Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription 2009 United States
James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper. 7 15/16 x 11 1/2 in. (20.2 x 29.2 cm)