Saturday, March 19, 2011


ON THE THAMES by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902).

I am a big fan of J.J.J. Tissot's extraordinary work. He was a French painter who spent most of his life in Victorian England. I've blogged about his paintings before and probably will again, going forward. I am very fond of his dressed-to-the-teeth Victorian ladies.

This painting, for me, is all about the fanciful outfit this young woman is wearing. That and the two men and their non-expressions. I love the mellow use of color as well.

Do you suppose this young woman is about to get into that little boat? Or has she just come up out of it? The sailor on the right is helping - her hand is on his wrist, possibly for balance. But do you think she can actually sit in that get-up? Oh, don't get me wrong, I love her dress! All that wonderfully detailed ruching. But I'm just wondering if it's the appropriate thing for a turn on the Thames in a little boat. The fabric looks like chiffon and the woven ribbon - velvet? And those gloves- my dear. Underneath it all, of course, would be a corset. It's a wonder to me she can even move. But the whole effect is one of enormous charm and a certain helpless femininity. The Victorian ideal?

The two men seem hardly to notice all her frippery. They are probably used to this sort of thing. (Women will have their fashions. I can see the two men rolling their eyes.) Well, of course, I love their little bulls' eye pillbox hats.


  1. Both sailor's eyes seem distracted, as if they are lost in their thoughts. The woman, meanwhile, looks very coquettish.
    Her waist appears to be around 20 inches..ouch..that is some corset! Her dress is beautiful but I'm sure she'd think of it as a simple summer frock.
    I'm glad I did not live in that era..I'd be lost without my jeans! :)

  2. Pat: Me too! It's pants for me. I'd be ostracized in Victorian society. HA! But it is a lovely, lovely dress, no question. A wonderful painting.

  3. I love the painting - AND your comments. She looks like a damsel who could easily be in distress.

    NB: though I don´t always leave comments, I enjoy all my visits here - there is always something for the eyes to dwell on.

  4. Dorte: I think the whole thing with Victorian women was looking as if they might be in distress at any moment. Men liked this sort of thing, I suppose. Ha!

    Thanks, Dorte. I'm glad you dropped by.

  5. Some painters just seen to have a dream like quality. The colors are so soft and lots of detail in the leaves and dress. Most of the new painters do not put that much time into their work.

  6. Yvonne: Representational painting certainly gets short shrift these days. But I still love it. Although I also love some of the 'moderns'. I'm not exclusionary. :)

  7. And was thinking the sailor holding her hand was looking at something, just not her dress.

  8. Actually, Ryan, to me he looks as if he's trying to get a glimpse of her ankles. Ankles were 'it' in Victorian times. Ha!


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