Terra Incognita: Prints by Tissot is an exhibition of works on paper by the 19th-century French artist James Jacques-Joseph Tissot (1836–1902) from Telfair Museums’ permanent collection.
A painter known for his lush depictions of the upper-class and its social dramas, Tissot moved to London after the fall of the Paris Commune in 1871, living and working abroad for over a decade. From the mid-1870s on, the artist’s work was “haunted”—in the words of Tissot scholar Christopher Wood—by the likeness of Kathleen Newton, a young divorcée who was rumored to be the mother of his illegitimate child. Living with Newton until her untimely death from tuberculosis in 1882 in his home in St. John’s Wood, a suburb of London, Tissot represented her face or figure in the majority of his paintings, prints, and photographs of this time. The works on display in Terra Incognita reflect Newton’s influence on Tissot’s work and, more broadly, speak to the evolving and fraught position of women in 19th-century European society.
This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Anne-Solène Bayan, assistant curator.