James Tissot



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Not on display

James Tissot 1836–1902
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 762 × 994 × 20 mm
frame: 925 × 1185 × 95 mm
Purchased 1928

Display caption

This painting is set in the artist’s garden in the wealthy north London suburb of St John’s Wood. It features its distinctive cast-iron colonnade enclosing a large ornamental fishpond. St John’s Wood was considered a rather louche area and this picture of young people flirting, unnoticed by their sleeping chaperone, was considered by some to be rather vulgar. The men are wearing the caps of I Zingari, an elite amateur cricket club.James Tissot had fled to London in 1870 after the fall of the Paris Commune, and stayed until 1882.

Gallery label, July 2007

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Catalogue entry

James Tissot 1836-1902

N04413 Holiday c.1876

Inscribed 'J.J. Tissot' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 30 x 39 1/8 (76.5 x 99.5)
Purchased from Thos. McLean Ltd. (Clarke Fund) 1928
Prov: James Taylor; with or through Thos. McLean Ltd., London
Exh: Grosvenor Gallery, London, May-June 1877 (23) as 'Holyday', lent by James Taylor; James Tissot (1836-1902), Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, May-June 1955 (24); James Tissot, 1836-1902, Arts Council touring exhibition, July-November 1955 (25); James Jacques Joseph Tissot 1836-1902: a Retrospective Exhibition, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, February-March 1968 (26, repr.); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, April-May 1968 (26, repr.)
Repr: James Layer, Vulgar Society (London 1936), pl.23 as 'The Picnic' c.1879; John Rothenstein, Modern Foreign Pictures in the Tate Gallery (London 1947), pl.23; Carlos Peacock, Painters and Writers (London 1949), pl.58 in colour

Though known in recent years as 'The Picnic', this picture was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877 (23) as 'Holyday' (sic), lent by James Taylor. Sidney Colvin in The Fortnightly Review, June 1877, p.830 referred to 'the group of cricketers and ladies beside the water under a horse-chestnut'. Oscar Wilde commented (Dublin University Magazine, XC, July 1877, pp.125-6): 'There is some good colour and drawing ... in his painting of a withered chestnut tree, with the autumn sun glowing through the yellow leaves in a picnic scene, No.23; the remainder of the picture being somewhat in the photographic style of Frith ... Mr Tissot's over-dressed, common-looking people, and ugly, painfully accurate representation of modern soda water bottles'. Furthermore, in The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 9 May 1877, p.6: 'In "A Summer Holiday" [sic] we see the same unhealthy-looking pool and luxuriant vegetation which we noticed in Mr Tissot's "Convalescent", shown in last year's Academy exhibition. The accessories are, however, changed. In place of the invalid ... we have a merry pic-nic party.'

'The Convalescent', exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876 and now in the Sheffield City Art Galleries, is the same size as this work and might possibly be considered as a companion piece. As is noted in the catalogue of the Tissot retrospective exhibition at Providence and Toronto: 'The viewpoint is almost the same, but in the Sheffield painting the guests have departed, leaving a convalescent girl and an elderly woman (also in The Picnic) who looks after her. A stick and hat laid across an empty chair suggests a man's absence'. Both pictures show autumnal effects.

The setting is the garden of Tissot's house at 17 Grove End Road, St John's Wood, to which he moved in 1873. Its pool and colonnade appear in various other paintings and etchings. The cricketers in the red, yellow and blue caps are members of the famous I Zingari cricket club and their presence may be partly explained by the fact that Tissot was living only a few hundred yards from Lord's cricket ground. There is the remains of a very sketchy drawing in charcoal on the back of the canvas, possibly for a composition of a standing figure in a landscape.

A picture in the Tissot exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London, in January 1937 (4) was described as a study for this work.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.722-3, reproduced p.722

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