courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art James Tissot (1836-1902)
Tissot's work is not in that supposed mainstream of style that flows through the 19th and 20th centuries. He lived in the age of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism but was not really part of either of those movements. Though trained in Paris and on close terms with Degas, he chose to live in London during the most exciting years of Impressionism. He specialised in depicting scenes of everyday life, and in his portraits he developed a taste for sophisticated women, and in particular their clothes.
He painted Two Figures at a Door at a pivotal moment when he was trying to establish himself in the British art world by focusing on themes that would appeal to the Victorian taste for story-telling subjects. The painting presumably depicts a couple just after the man has proposed marriage and is waiting for a reply. The door may have a symbolic meaning: will she let him cross the “threshold” and enter her life, or will she leave him waiting outside? During this split second of suspense, the viewer’s attention is drawn to the sumptuous dress and fabrics and the sunlight streaming into the room, backlighting the figure’s faces and drawing attention to what they may be thinking. The high-keyed palette reflects the Impressionist fascination with intense, outdoor light, while the subject aligns with the Victorian propensity to scrutinize paintings for their symbolic meaning and relevance to social issues. Through such paintings, Tissot established himself as a major figure in the British art world.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-1345: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)