James Tissot, Jesus Chronicler

Jesus wept. (John 11)
I have become fascinated with the story and the painting of James Tissot.

For years he captured with great realism the gaiety and dissipation of higher society in Paris and in London. The pictures were exquisite but the messages were all fleeting.

Late in life the man experienced a sincere conversion to Christianity and came under the compulsion to dedicate his significant talents to telling the story of Jesus. He delighted in several trips to the Holy Land. His work became more impressionistic with rather drab and sketchy representations of landscape and village, of heat and dust. But his characters, Jesus and following, and his story suggestions were brilliant.

Clearly the man was in a hurry to tell the Old Story. More than 400 paintings on display at one time in New York (1899)!

Perhaps the following poem will fill in some more blanks:

Tissot Comes Alive

So little time,
So much to paint
Of lasting worth.
The years mis-spent.
The social rave.
The treats of earth.
Those cities gay
Where I would play
With earl and wench.
My shame today.
Take them away.
Their swirl, their stench!

For I have found
Much richer ground
From which to paint.
The Life of Christ
Pearl of Great Price
For every saint.
Let canvas fly!
Be quick to dry!
Scenes of the King.
Of those He blessed
The poor, distressed.
Let my brush sing.

Jesus and the Little Child
Jesus speaks from a boat.

Breakfast with the risen Lord


  1. I write a blog about Art and Christianity (with a few awkward jokes peppered throughout). Since I discovered James Tissot I want to post his work for every scripture reading. I love several artists but I have to prevent myself from making my blog a James Tissot fan club and spread the love around. Check out my blog, I've included James Tissot several times: http://sermonillustrationsblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-extended-family-of-faith.html?q=james+tissot


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