James Tissot (French, Nantes 1836–1902 Chenecey-Buillon)

Oil on wood
26 x 18 7/8 in. (66 x 47.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1998
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    When Tissot moved to London in 1871, he immersed himself in the local scene, with work for "Vanity Fair" and genre paintings with the river Thames as backdrop. "Tea" is a repetition of the left-hand portion of one of his most famous London scenes, "Bad News" (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff), which shows a captain and his girlfriend absorbing the news of his imminent departure while a companion prepares tea.

    "Bad News" shows the Pool of London through the tavern windows, while "Tea" displays the dense London cityscape beyond that stretch of the river. Tissot's friend Edgar Degas owned a pencil study for this picture.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated ( lower right): J.J. Tissot / L. '72

  • Provenance

    private collection, Rome (in 1968); [Somerville & Simpson, Ltd., London, by 1979–81; consigned in 1981 to Mathiessen Fine Art Ltd., London; sold through Mathiessen to Wrightsman]; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1981–his d. 1986); Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1986–98)

  • References

    Willard Erwin Misfeldt. "James Jacques Joseph Tissot: A Bio-Critical Study." PhD diss., Washington University, 1971, p. 138, fig. 72.

    Michael Wentworth. Letter to Mrs. Charles Wrightsman. October 5, 1981.

    Michael Wentworth in James Tissot. Exh. cat., Barbican Art Gallery, London. Oxford, 1984, pp. 20, 107, under nos. 44–45, describes the pencil study (Parr collection) for the figure to the left in "Bad News (The Parting)" and in this work.

    Michael Wentworth. James Tissot. Oxford, 1984, pp. xvii, 103, no. 79, colorpl. 79, includes it in a discussion of the narrative implications of Tissot's neo-Georgian pieces of the early 1870s, where the same elements were often rearranged.

    Christopher Wood. Tissot: The Life and Work of Jacques Joseph Tissot, 1836–1902. Boston, 1986, p. 60, fig. 56, calls it "Tea-Time (Le thé)" and identifies the background as the Thames.

    Russell Ash. James Tissot. London, 1992, unpaginated, colorpl. 12, suggests that in deleting the narrative elements, Tissot created a genre painting.

    Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1998–1999." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Fall 1999), pp. 5, 46–47, ill. (color), identifies the background as the "dense London cityscape" and notes that the pencil study presently in the Parr collection was previously owned by Edgar Degas.

    Gary Tinterow and Asher Ethan Miller in The Wrightsman Pictures. New York, 2005, pp. 401–4, no. 114, ill. (color).

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 118, 307, no. 107, ill. (color and black and white).

  • Notes

    This work is a variation—with differences in the costume, tea service, background, and other details—of the left-hand figure and her surroundings as seen in Tissot's "Bad News (The Parting)" (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff). The latter was first exhibited at the 1872 International Exhibition in London. Tissot's pencil study for the young woman, incorrectly titled "Young Woman Pouring Coffee" (Parr collection), must also date from about 1872. "Bad News" is itself a variant of Tissot's "An Interesting Story" (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne), shown to great acclaim at the Royal Academy in 1872. The figure to the right in "An Interesting Story" is on the the left in "Bad News (The Parting)", as well as being the model for the figure in this painting.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History