The French artist Jacques Joseph Tissot was born in 1836, in the west coast, in Nantes, a port city in Loire-Atlantique. He adopted the name James Tissot by 1854, possibly because of his interest in British art and culture. His parents were in the fashion industry; his father, Marcel Theodore, worked as a drapery merchant along with his mother, Marie Durand. She was also a hat designer and a Catholic, leading Tissot to a devout lifestyle from an early age. The artist became most famous for his beautiful portrayals of women in high-fashion clothing - possibly an influence of his parents. Tissot also painted many nautical themed canvases, which can be due to the boats and ships he saw in Nantes during his childhood. By his teen years, he knew he was destined to become an artist and was dedicated to doing so, along with his mother’s full support. His father did not agree, preferring he had a more stable profession in business.
Around 1856, during his early studies, Tissot moved to Paris to study at the Academié des Beaux-Arts. He became a student of Louis Lamothe and Jean Hippolyte Flandrin - both who studied under Ingres. The painter Jules-Elie Delaunay, a friend of Tissot’s mother, offered for him to stay at his home in Paris. Along with having classes at the Academy, the artist would visit the Louvre to copy the works of past masters - a common practice of student artists. He met fellow artists Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, as well as James McNeill Whistler, an American artist - all of which eventually went against the institution of Academic art and breaking the accepted norms of Classic painting with Modern techniques and themes. Tissot participated in the prestigious Paris Salon for the first time in 1859, bringing artworks influenced by the piece Faust by Goethe and with themes of the Middle Ages. His interest in painting Medieval subject shifted four years after his first exhibit in the Salon, to more Modern motifs - a decision he became highly praised for by art critics and the public. Like the Impressionists and many other artists of the time, he was inspired by Japanese artworks, artifacts, and culture in general.
Tissot fought to defend his country in the Franco-Prussian War. He left for London in 1871 to continue his career as an artist, learning new techniques, like etching with the artist Sir Seymour Haden. The artist also worked with caricature illustration for Vanity Fair magazine during this period. Tissot became a popular artist among wealthy British businessmen, and by 1872 he purchased a house in a popular area for artists in London. Degas, who painted a portrait of Tissot, asked him to participate in the first Impressionist exhibit in 1874, but he did not attend, although he was in close contact with the participating artists. During the next year, he met his companion, Kathleen Newton, who had a son in 1876 named Cecil George. Kathleen died sometime after, and the artist returned to Paris. By the end of his career, Tissot renewed his faith and retook Catholic subjects in his work and instead of following Modern tendencies in art, he gravitated more towards Realism. Beginning in 1886, the French artist took three trips to the Middle East to gather references of people and surroundings for his Biblical paintings. Tissot passed away suddenly in 1902 while living in Doubs, France, at the age of 65.