When the Musée d’Orsay reopened yesterday I couldn’t wait to go and see the James Tissot “Ambiguously Modern” exhibit. The retrospective has been extended to run through September 13th 2020 in Paris. I was immediately captivated by Tissot’s work.
The Reopening of the Musée d’Orsay
The visit was my first to a big Paris museum since my trip to the Louvre in February. I was curious to see how it would work logistically. Advance reservations are required so that timed entry tickets can control the number of visitors inside the museum. Masks are required at all times and people are filtered in through different entrances, although once inside you can move freely.
I went in the afternoon. There were a good amount of people inside the museum but nowhere near as many as usual. I started my visit on the fifth floor and worked my way down to the James Tissot exhibit.
There wasn’t a wait to get into the exhibit, but there were quite a bit more people inside than I was expecting (at least by social distancing standards). Because of the unexpected “crowd,” I didn’t spend a lot of time at the beginning of the exhibit and tried to move through to where there was a more open space and fewer people.
I think going forward for temporary exhibits I’ll try to go at the first time slot. The spaces are often smaller so that’ll be the easiest way to try to stay away from as many people as possible.
The James Tissot Exhbit
There hasn’t been a James Tissot retrospective in Paris for 35 years. Tissot was born in Nantes and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After fighting in the Franco-Prussian war, he moved to London. It was there that he fell in love with Kathleen Newton, who became his model and muse until her death in 1882. After she died he never fully recovered and left England for France.
After returning to France, Tissot produced one of his greatest achievements, the “La Femme à Paris” series. In the “Women of Paris” series there are 15 different paintings that depict Parisian women and the looks between the women, the men, and the spectators.
Although this series was intended to help re-establish Tissot on the French art scene, it wasn’t well received. Both the women and Tissot were regarded as being too British. Tissot did reuse elements from earlier compositions in the series. The subject and figures in Les Demoiselles de province came from Too Early, painted 10 years before in England.
I thought the James Tissot exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay was fabulous. I’d love to go back again during the first time slot of the day to be able to spend some extra time admiring Tissot’s works.