Seductive Surfaces

The Art of Tissot

Edited by Katharine A. Lochnan

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Engaging, sophisticated, and witty, French-born artist James Joseph Tissot (1836–1902) painted for many years in London before returning to Paris in the 1880s. His works not only document contemporary fashion, manners, and mores, but also the paradoxes and anxieties of his age. In this book, ten contributors approach Tissot and his art from a variety of theoretical positions and disciplines to arrive at fresh and often startling insights. Looking both at and beneath Tissot’s seductive surfaces, the authors attempt to identify and decode the artist’s subtexts—issues of gender, class, and such ancillary topics as voyeurism, exhibitionism, fetishism, kitsch, and spiritualism.

Deliberately stamping his work with the appearance and taste of "vulgar society," Tissot created paintings and prints that were both aesthetically and socially subversive. He focused on the dichotomy between appearance and reality—while his surfaces are superficially charming, upon closer examination they can be seen as veneers concealing troubling psychological or social dramas. The authors show that Tissot’s narratives may give an impression of accessibility, but to determine their significance is a complex matter. The book also demonstrates the extent to which the art of Tissot offers a rich archaeological site for those with an interest in Victorian Britain and the Third Empire society.

Katharine Lochnan is senior curator, Department of Prints and Drawings, Art Gallery of Ontario.

"A good companion to James Tissot: Victorian Life/Modern Love."—Choice

"Beautifully produced. . . . [A] richness of . . . insights."—Christine Bolus-Reichert, Victorian Studies

ISBN: 9780300081848
Publication Date: October 11, 1999
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
280 pages, 7 x 10
106 b/w + 25 color illus.
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