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Jesus Looking through a Lattice (Jésus regardant à travers le treillis)

James Tissot

European Art

When Tissot first debuted his series in Paris in 1894, he preceded the earliest narrative scenes with this mysterious image of Jesus peering through a delicate screen. The artist provided the following verse from the Song of Solomon to accompany this unusual composition: “Behold, he [the beloved] standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice.”

As scholars have noted, the vines heavy with fruit and the sunflowers—traditional Christian symbols—sprout before or climb the thick stone wall. While the grapes evoke the rite of Communion, the bright yellow flowers, which grow toward the sun, suggest Christ’s followers, who turn faithfully to him.

This image of a partially hidden figure also suggests Tissot’s mission in painting the series: through his careful archaeological, anthropological, and historical researches at home and abroad, he sought to reveal the “true” Christ, who had been obscured, he asserted, by the “fancies” of successive centuries of artists.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 5 11/16 x 6 15/16 in. (14.4 x 17.6 cm) Sheet: 5 11/16 x 6 15/16 in. (14.4 x 17.6 cm) Frame: 15 x 20 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom near left (on wall): "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.11
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Looking through a Lattice (Jésus regardant à travers le treillis), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 5 11/16 x 6 15/16 in. (14.4 x 17.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.11
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.11_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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