14th Feb, 2023 12:00 EST

European Art and Old Masters

  Lot 56


James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836–1902)
Sur la Plage 

Dedicated and signed 'à l'ami Colville/J.J. Tissot' bottom right; also illegibly inscribed in pencil (by another hand) 'Antoine [illeg.] (Colville) / Porzellanmaler [?]ab. 1793 Ruffey sur Seille/Jura/1867' on the middle stretcher bar verso, oil on canvas
19 1/2 x 22 1/4 in. (49.5 x 56.5cm)
Executed circa 1864.

Please note this Lot will be on view in New York City at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Pk S) the week of January 23. To make an appointment, please contact Raphael Chatroux at rchatroux@freemansauction.com


The Artist.
A gift from the above.
Collection of Antoine Colville.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Marqusee, New York, New York.
A gift from the above.
Private Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

$40,000 - $60,000

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Dedicated and signed 'à l'ami Colville/J.J. Tissot' bottom right; also illegibly inscribed in pencil (by another hand) 'Antoine [illeg.] (Colville) / Porzellanmaler [?]ab. 1793 Ruffey sur Seille/Jura/1867' on the middle stretcher bar verso, oil on canvas
19 1/2 x 22 1/4 in. (49.5 x 56.5cm)
Executed circa 1864.

Please note this Lot will be on view in New York City at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Pk S) the week of January 23. To make an appointment, please contact Raphael Chatroux at rchatroux@freemansauction.com


The Artist.
A gift from the above.
Collection of Antoine Colville.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Marqusee, New York, New York.
A gift from the above.
Private Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


"James Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836-1902: A Retrospective Exhibition," Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, February 28-March 29, 1968; and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, April 6-May 5, 1968 (traveling exhibition), no. 5


David S. Brooke, Michael Wentworth et al., James Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836-1902: A Retrospective Exhibition, an exhibition catalogue, Rhode Island Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1968 (illustrated).
Michael Wentworth, James Tissot, Clarendon Press and Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford respectively, 1984, pl. 22 (illustrated).


We wish to thank Ms. Krystyna Matyjaszkiewicz for confirming the authenticity of the present lot, and for her assistance in preparing the below catalogue entry.

During the early years of his career, James Tissot (1836-1902)—christened Jacques Joseph but known as James from childhood and using that name professionally as an artist—painted compositions of figures in historical dress, as well as undertaking portrait commissions. At first he used costumes based on German 16th century fashions, which were considered to be “medieval”. After a visit to Italy, including Venice, Tissot extended his costume range to include Italian and French-inspired late 16th century garments. Such costumes appeared frequently on the Paris stage at that time in both operas and plays, such as Les Huguenots and Hamlet. History pictures depicting the same era, when Henri IV was king of France, had also been popularised in the 19th century by artists whom Tissot admired, notably Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). Tissot either borrowed “Huguenot-style” theatrical dress or had similar garments made up by dressmakers, as a number of pieces are worn by models posed in different ways for various historical-dress compositions, including Sur la Plage.

The young woman in the centre wears a black gown with sleeves that are puffed and “paned” or slashed at the top, and close-fitting below. White edging emphasises the paned sleeves and high neckline, with a tall collar ending in a small white ruff. The paned sleeves reveal a pale-grey silk lining below. She wears a matching black velvet cap with white feathers. A black chalk drawing by Tissot of a bare-headed model wearing the same dress is known (currently unlocated) and the same costume appears full-length in Promenade on the Ramparts, 1864 (Cantor Arts Centre, Stanford University, California), Tentative d’Enlèvement [The Attempted Abduction], 1865, and Le Rendez-vous, about 1867 (both unlocated). Both male costumes also feature in Promenade on the Ramparts, where the boy in pink jerkin and black puffed-sleeve jacket has grey hose and black shoes rather than the over-the-knee boots he wears in Sur la Plage, and the man has different trunk hose with grey rather than buff-coloured jerkin.

The white and grey horses, and a dark-coloured animal beside the man that might be intended as a mule or donkey rather than a horse, are lightly sketched in. The dog is sketched with more confidence than the other animals, and dogs of various types appear in many of his works but horses are rarer. Although the painting was not sufficiently complete for exhibition, it was probably liked, and may have been requested by Tissot’s friend, Antoine Colville (1793-1867), to whom it was dedicated by the artist. Colville painted miniatures and was also employed to decorate ceramics. He was born in the Jura, west of France, near to where the family of Tissot’s father had lived after emigration from Italy, and their origins may have linked the two artists.

Tissot’s paintings often provide hints of stories, leaving the viewer to imagine what may have occurred or is about to happen. Given the historical costumes, the figures on the beach here could be Huguenots escaping from persecution and waiting to escape France by boat. In escaping they haven’t been able to take much with them, as no baggage is evident. Alternatively they might be waiting for someone about to arrive by sea. The rocky cliffs and narrow stretch of sand suggest precariousness. Both adults are looking out to sea but the boy is looking directly at the viewer (and the artist), sullen and less than happy about having to sit and wait.


Frame: 25 12 x 28 x 2 1/2 in.

The relined canvas in overall very good condition. Examination under UV light reveals scattered areas of old greenish varnish, indicative of a clean. We also notice two small areas of restoration: one to the right of the male figure, in the rocky background; and another on the central horse's mane and neck (pinpoint sized). For more information, please see Specialist's images. To have access to such images, please email Raphael Chatroux at rchatroux@freemansauction.com.

Please note: All lots show signs of wear consistent with age and use, and the absence of a statement regarding condition issues does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from imperfections or the effects of aging.

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