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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Speaking to those who challenge his teachings and his deeds, Jesus likens himself to the good shepherd, pictured here, who devotes his life, and sacrifices his own well-being, to protect the sheep in his care. This analogy anticipates the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus will make for his “flock” of followers and humankind. Tissot notes that this parable is among the most beautiful in the Gospels—and, indeed, one with an enduring visual history. The artist cites the earliest examples in the...
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Following the death of the good (or penitent) thief crucified at Golgotha, his soul is taken up to heaven, fulfilling the promise made by Jesus on the cross; as Tissot notes, he is the very first to “reap the benefits of the Redemption of mankind.” With eyes wide open in wonder, the good thief floats upward, supported by six-winged angels who bear perfume censers. Far below lies the earth, its continents and seas clearly discernible. Object metadata can change over time, please check the...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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According to Luke, an angel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear the Son of God. Tissot adhered to art-historical precedents for this biblical episode, placing the Angel Annunciate at left and Mary at right. Her white robes, symbolizing purity, set her apart from the pattern-on-pattern furnishings that the artist used to signal the “authenticity” of the exotic Eastern setting. Mary sits on the floor with head bowed and hands open, humbly accepting her role. In a later passage...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
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Jesus’ conversations with members of his community escalate and become violent: when he claims to know Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch, devout Jews are skeptical, given his youth. Alluding to his own transcendence as the Son of God, he replies: “Before Abraham was, I am.” At this response, the people attack Jesus with stones, gathering together as an angry mob. Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
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Calvary, the site of the Crucifixion, was located just outside the walls of Jerusalem. The artist notes that in the enclosure visible in the middle distance—flat ground in an otherwise rocky terrain— three post holes held the crosses for Jesus and the thieves who were condemned to die alongside him. Invoking the writings of Saint Ambrose, Tissot says that Christ was crucified at the spot called Golgotha, or the place of the skull. According to tradition, Adam, the first man, was buried on...
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Brooklyn Museum
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Herod learned of the birth of the Christ Child from the Magi, who sought Jesus and called the infant the King of the Jews. As the ruler of Judaea appointed by the Romans, Herod felt his authority challenged by this newcomer. Known for his brutality, Herod then ordered the murder of all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem. Although Tissot acknowledged that the number of victims must have been relatively few in a village like Bethlehem, he depicted horror on a large scale in this...
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Brooklyn Museum
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Convicted of blasphemy by the high priests—a crime punishable by death—Jesus is led away, as the crowd of witnesses pulls his hair, scratches his face, and rains both insults and blows on his body in what Tissot describes as a “diabolical fury.” Having blindfolded Jesus, his tormentors now mock his status as a prophet by demanding that he divine which among them has hit him. Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Complementing the narrative of the venerations by the humble shepherds, the Magi, guided by a moving star, traveled separately from their individual lands in the east in search of the newborn Jesus. Tissot depicts the Magi at the moment when their retinues meet in the vast, arid landscape of the volcanic hills on the shores of the Dead Sea between Jericho, the Kedron Valley, and Jerusalem. In his commentary, the artist notes that their flowing saffron robes—a luxurious counterpoint to the...
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Although Luke devotes just two verses to the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, their formal promise of future marriage, Tissot inventively elaborates on the event, calling on his extensive research into ancient Jewish ritual. Before a sea of onlookers, Joseph, with staff still in hand, and Mary stand with heads bowed beneath a painted canopy held aloft by attendants who grasp lushly garlanded poles. Tissot crams this tiny work with a multitude of details, from the patterned robes of Mary and Joseph...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Son of the brutal King Herod who had murdered the innocents of Bethlehem, Herod Antipas also ruled Judaea as one of the tetrarchs, or four kings, appointed by the Romans. After marrying Herodias, the widow of his late brother, he earned the scorn of John the Baptist. The Baptist’s outspoken condemnation of the marriage prompted Herod to imprison him. Tissot depicts Herod in a colorful costume rich in its textiles and embroidered details, a distinct contrast to the simplicity of the...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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In this chapter of Matthew, Jesus teaches frequently with parables, or fables—a strategy that frustrates his disciples, who ask him why he uses this challenging method of preaching. To explain his pedagogy, Jesus invokes yet another parable, the fable of the sower. The sower scatters his seeds on inhospitable terrain—rocky, thorny, and dry—seemingly to no effect. But many of the seeds do find fertile ground, producing a plentiful harvest. For Jesus, his words are like the seeds of the...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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While Mark devotes just a single verse to the act of crucifixion, Tissot describes the process in exacting detail in four images and his accompanying published commentaries. Following first-century Roman sources, he considers the physical restraints the executioners probably employed to bind Jesus securely to the cross. He concludes that ropes must have been required, in addition to nails, to keep the elevated body from collapsing under its own weight. At right, the Virgin Mary and others look...
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Brooklyn Museum
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As Christ and the thieves condemned to die along with him hang on their crosses, one mockingly demands that Jesus, as the Christ, relieve them of their sufferings. The other criminal reminds his fellow of the justness of their punishments, in contrast to the innocence of Jesus. “Touched,” Tissot writes, “by the divine gentleness of the crucified Saviour,” the penitent thief then asks Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom; Jesus replies that today the thief will be with...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Standing on a raised platform before the Court of the Gentiles outside the Temple, Jesus first considers asking God to save him from his impending sacrifice; but then, recognizing its necessity in the divine plan, he instead glorifies God’s name. The Lord responds from the heavens: some in the crowd hear thunder, others the voice of an angel. Jesus acknowledges his forthcoming death to those gathered. With this image, Tissot again blends his interest in historical accuracy with a sense of...
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Brooklyn Museum
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In this parable, a young man leaves the comfort of family, wanders foreign lands, and resorts to begging after wasting a fortune through debauchery. Returning, he receives the embrace of his father, who warmly welcomes him home despite his mistakes, prompting the young man to repent the rejection of his family. Tissot had treated the Prodigal Son subject several times before, first in the guise of early historicizing scenes that helped establish his career and then, in the early 1880s, as a...
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Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
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Jesus drives the merchants from the Temple, among them moneychangers as well as those who sell animals for sacrifice and food for worshippers. He scatters their goods—in a dramatic flurry of flapping doves’ wings—as he wields a whip devised from his own belt, Tissot notes in his text. (This last detail comes from the account in John, though Tissot chose not to cite those verses in his Bible.) The sheer bulk of merchants with their wares and animals had grown so large, Tissot explains,...
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Throughout the series, Tissot adopted compositional strategies that permit—and indeed, force—the viewer into the action of the narrative as a participant. In a significant departure from this practice, however, Tissot here presents an expansive view from above the public forum where Jesus hears his death sentence. Although the figures are minute, the red-cloaked Jesus, flanked on either side by the thieves condemned to die with him, can be clearly discerned standing before Pilate, who sits...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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This is one of a group of paintings illustrating parables told by Jesus to his followers, rather than episodes from his life. Here, a rich man amasses possessions, taking pride in their accumulation rather than praising God for their plenitude and use. Dazzled by the goods that surround him, he remains oblivious to the threat of death hovering behind him in the form of a sword-bearing angel. Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest...
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In his text, Tissot describes the slow, careful manner with which the Virgin, attended by other holy women, washed and dried her son’s wounds before the procession accompanied the body to the stone of anointing. In this image, the body has been wrapped, according to Jewish custom, with linen bands before being placed in a series of shrouds, the last hiding the face. Before covering his visage, the Virgin gives her son a final kiss. Unlike the images in the Passion, in which Mary sometimes...
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Although this episode cannot be found in the Gospel accounts, Tissot presents a scene traditionally included as one of the Stations of the Cross, a series of images, venerated chiefly by Catholics, that trace the events of Jesus’ final hours. At the fourth station, he meets his mother, Mary, after he falls while carrying his cross to Calvary. Her arms extended toward her son, Mary rushes to his side, accompanied by John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene. Her compassion stands in marked...
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Brooklyn Museum
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Apart from Jesus, Mary Magdalene is the only individual in Tissot’s series accorded more than one study, or portrait—an exception that announces her importance, not only to the narrative itself but also to the artist. As scholars have suggested, Tissot appears to have modeled the Magdalene’s features after his late mistress, Mrs. Kathleen Newton, who had died of tuberculosis in 1882. Like many in the nineteenth century, the painter was particularly interested in the occult, and he had...
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Tissot closed the published volumes of The Life of Christ with this funerary self-portrait and an invocation to the reader to pray for him. Here, he stands among articles associated with rites for the dead: tapers, a draped coffin, wreaths, and holy water. In the background, a large wreath surrounds the distinctive “JTJ” monogram with which he signed some of his works. There are also certain mystical elements. As scholars have noted, while Tissot raises his right hand in a gesture of...
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Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
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Brooklyn Museum
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Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Jesus is being watched carefully by the priests and scribes, who hope to have him arrested as a threat to Roman rule. Asked whether tribute should be paid to Rome, Jesus points to a coin inscribed with the likeness of the emperor and raises another hand to the sky, saying, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” Distinguishing between terrestrial and divine authority, Jesus evades the trap as his hostile audience crowds around...
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Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
Topics: art, European Art
Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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In John’s account, the Pharisees seek the counsel of the chief priest Caiaphas, fearful that Jesus’ growing ministry will provoke the wrath of the Romans and thereby jeopardize the Jewish nation. For the sake of political expediency, Caiaphas urges the priests to find a way to kill Jesus. Tissot emphasizes the clandestine nature of the meeting by placing the participants at the top of the stair, at a distance from the viewer, a rare compositional strategy. Their turned backs and black hoods...
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
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When warned by Jesus that he would deny him three times before the cock crowed—before the dawn—Peter vehemently objected, asserting his fidelity and pledging to die alongside Jesus. However, the prophecy is realized. Peter first denies his status as a disciple to the maidservant who points an accusatory finger at him while guarding the door to the chief priest’s chamber. Later, admitted to the priest’s rooms, where he warms himself by the fire, Peter again rejects the association when...
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Although Herod had imprisoned John the Baptist for speaking against his marriage to Herodias, the ruler admired the Baptist as a wise and righteous man. On the occasion of Herod’s birthday, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, dances before the guests, pleasing the host so much that he promises her anything she wants. Tissot notes that he found inspiration for his image of Salome’s acrobatic dance in ancient reliefs from sources as diverse as Egypt, India, and Persia as well as the reliefs of...
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Brooklyn Museum
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Betrothed but still unmarried, Mary and Joseph do not yet live together, making the news of her unexpected pregnancy a cause of deep concern for Joseph. Ordinarily industrious, as the curled wood shavings around his feet attest, the carpenter hunches over his bench, lost in thought and unable to work. In the hope of catching a glimpse of Mary, he gazes out at the street as women pass carrying jars filled with the day’s water. Although traditional representations of Joseph show a man of...
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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As Jesus continues on his route to Calvary, a woman now known as Saint Veronica approaches to offer momentary respite. Kneeling before Jesus, she gives him linen to wipe his face of the sweat and blood from his exertions and wounds. Taking the cloth in both hands, he presses it to his face, leaving a likeness of his features, which Veronica cherished as a memorial to him. In his commentary, Tissot notes that this relic was later taken to Rome for safekeeping by the Church. Object metadata can...
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
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Having departed from the Temple, as Tissot notes, for the final time, Jesus sits with a small group of his disciples: Peter, James, Andrew, and John the Evangelist. Against the backdrop of the Temple complex and the thick, fortified walls of Jerusalem, he prophesies the destruction of the Temple and its splendor—an event understood by the group as marking the end of times. Object metadata can change over time, please check the Brooklyn Museum object record for the latest information.
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Brooklyn Museum
by James Tissot
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Brooklyn Museum
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Brooklyn Museum
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