At the Seashore

At the Seashore


James Tissot

(French, 1836-1902)

Etching and drypoint

Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Prasse Collection 1974.258

Catalogue raisonné: Beraldi vol. XII.132.38 ; Wentworth 47



In spite of the title and nautical background, Tissot in fact used a curved bay window in his London home as the setting for this composition. The model was Kathleen Newton, the young divorcée who, along with her young daughter and son, were the exclusive subjects of Tissot's work from 1876 until her death from tuberculosis in 1882 at the age of 28. The uncertainty of the figure's social position, whose identity as a respectable bourgeois wife is open to question, is underscored by her precarious pose on a window ledge. Newton lived with the artist at his home in St. John's Wood, one of London's new suburbs, perceived by Victorians not as a haven of domesticity, but a confusing and troubling product of the modern age. Like his contemporaries Cassatt and Manet, Tissot was a painter of modern, urban life. He eschewed anecdote, preferring instead to tantalize his viewers with suggestive ambiguity. Like Cassatt, Tissot was also influenced by Japanese prints; for this etching, he adopted the format of the hashira-e, a tall, narrow woodcut used on pillars in Japan.

See also
PR - Etching
Type of artwork: 

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