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Portrait of the Pilgrim (Portrait du pèlerin)

James Tissot

European Art

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 benediction, his left hand seems transparent, like a ghostly apparition. Furthermore, the tapers noticeably flicker, as if a sudden gust of air—or a spirit—has passed through the room.

Concluding his published Bible with this valedictory image, Tissot suggests not only the extent to which he had invested himself in this immense undertaking, but also how fully the ethos of the Gospels had come to permeate his life and art.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1896
    DIMENSIONS Image: 9 1/16 x 5 5/8 in. (23 x 14.3 cm) Sheet: 9 1/16 x 5 5/8 in. (23 x 14.3 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Thomas E. Kirby
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