James Tissot's Men and Women of the Old Testament
James Tissot's Hebrew Bible watercolor illustrations are some of the most beloved and sought after images in the Jewish Museum's collection. In 1885, Tissot began a series of religious paintings, The Life of Christ. Completed in 1894 and purchased by the Brooklyn Museum in 1900, they received great fanfare. Following, he embarked on a project to illustrate the Hebrew Bible. He made may trips to Palestine in 1896 to draw inspiration, observing the landscape where the biblical stories took place. In 1902, midway through the project, Tissot died suddenly. The series was completed by artists from Tissot's studio, who finished partially completed pictures or created works that approximated his style. 368 illustrations from the original suite of works are included in the Jewish Museum's collection. Learn more about this collection here.
This book, featuring over 300 color reproductions and five educational essays, was published by Brigham Young University Museum of Art for their exhibition Prophets, Priests, and Queens. Despite Tissot’s deep commitment to his Hebrew Bible series, it has received relatively little scholarly attention. This catalogue, and the exhibition that inspired it, draw on archival evidence to examine the unique contribution of Tissot’s final series to his overall body of work and place Tissot’s illustrations in the context of the artist’s own artistic and spiritual ideologies. As a whole, a reexamination of Tissot’s Hebrew Bible illustrations invites numerous new avenues of inquiry worthy of exploration. James Tissot’s Men and Women of the Old Testament demonstrates the artist’s characteristic desire to create dynamic and new perspectives for audiences and, in this case, complement and expand on his previous forays into religious illustration.