James Tissot was born in Nantes, France. He studied art at Beaux-Arts in Paris and following the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Tissot decided to move to London. This move must have caused problems in his life, and the painter needed to earn some money quickly. Tissot started to paint accomplished highly finished paintings of London society and social events. These paintings were an instant success with the art viewing and buying public, but not with the critics. His main criticisms of the time were that the paintings were really only painted photographs. There is some truth in this, though the paintings show dazzling technique, and a dash of Gallic wit and sophistication, the home grown English artists were quite unable to match. An attraction for Tissot was also the Port of London, and the river Thames. His paintings with the river as the background have an evocative atmosphere. One can almost smell the smoke, and hear the shouts of the dockers and watermen. In 1882 Tissot moved back to Paris. Initially Tissot carried on painting society and genre pictures in Paris, but soon gave this up, devoting the rest of his life to painting religious scenes. He visited the Middle- East twice to find genuine backgrounds for his religious paintings.
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