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The bourgeois art of James Tissot: Women in the harbour

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Maritime Art, Culture and History, Society and Culture

French artist James Tissot (born Jacques Joseph Tissot in 1836) was enamoured with women. No, not with women in general but with the fashionably dressed women of late Victorian society. He painted them in such a way that one would be irresistibly pulled in by their charm.

Tissot’s paintings of English women in the harbour (he lived in London from 1871 to 1882) are particularly interesting. His female subjects are always at centre stage with the harbour serving only as a backdrop. The viewer is presented with a study in contrasts: on one hand, soft feminine skin, elegant gestures and pretty attires; on the other, the manly sphere of sailors and tall ships.

 

Read more about James Tissot’s art here.

“In bourgeois society, one of woman’s assigned roles is to represent: her beauty, her charm, her intelligence, and her elegance are outward signs of her husband’s fortune, as is the body of his car.”

— Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe), 1949, translated by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (First Vintage Books Edition, May 2011)

Portsmouth Dockyard, c. 1877
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Boarding the Yacht, 1873
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth), c. 1876
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of Tate UK
Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

The Captain and the Mate, 1873
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Ball on Shipboard, c. 1874
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of Tate UK
Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

The Captain’s Daughter (The Last Evening), 1873
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of Southampton City Art Gallery via Art UK

Room Overlooking the Harbour, c.1876 – c.1878
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Read more about James Tissot’s art here.

~ Barista Uno

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