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The Good Shepherd (Le bon pasteur)

James Tissot

European Art

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 catacombs of ancient Rome. But again seeking to distance himself from previous visual traditions, Tissot asserts that this image found its roots in the devoted acts of caretaking among shepherds that he witnessed.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886–1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 11 1/16 x 5 7/8 in. (28.1 x 14.9 cm) Sheet: 11 1/16 x 5 7/8 in. (28.1 x 14.9 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.106
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    PROVENANCE 1900, purchased from the artist by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION James Tissot (Nantes, France, 1836–1902, Chenecey–Buillon, France). The Good Shepherd (Le bon pasteur), 1886–1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 11 1/16 x 5 7/8 in. (28.1 x 14.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.106 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.106_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.106_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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