The Piscina Probatica or Pool of Bethesda (La piscine probatique ou de Bethesda)
Although Tissot gave exacting attention to archaeological detail, providing what he intended as historically accurate backdrops for the narrative of Christ’s life, he also pursued the mystical. At the pool known as the Piscina Probatica, the infirm gather around the edge of the water in the hope of being healed.
According to John, an angel stirs the pool, activating its curative powers; the next person to step into the water would be delivered from affliction. Tissot’s image features two large, translucent hands reaching down into the pool: the bubbles and widening ripples on the water’s surface serve as traces of the miraculous phenomenon.
While Tissot’s painting invokes otherworldly agency, his accompanying commentary highlights the more mundane circumstances of life during the time of Jesus, including the water supply for the city of Jerusalem: the series of cisterns, reservoirs, and basins used for healing, sacrifice, and domestic needs.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Image: 9 1/4 x 5 7/8 in. (23.5 x 14.9 cm)
Sheet: 9 1/4 x 5 7/8 in. (23.5 x 14.9 cm)
Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
Purchased by public subscription
1900, purchased from the artist by the Brooklyn Museum.
This item is not on view
James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey-Buillon, France). The Piscina Probatica or Pool of Bethesda (La piscine probatique ou de Bethesda), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 1/4 x 5 7/8 in. (23.5 x 14.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.68 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.68_PS1.jpg)
overall, 00.159.68_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.