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The Bad Rich Man in Hell (Le mauvais riche dans l'Enfer)

James Tissot

European Art

In this parable, a rich man upon his death is sent to hell for ignoring the needs of a certain beggar named Lazarus (a character distinct from the man Jesus later resurrects), who had pleaded at his door for scraps and subsequently died. Now, as the rich man beseeches Abraham for relief from his sufferings, the Old Testament patriarch castigates him for his greed and his lack of charity during his lifetime.

Here Tissot imaginatively creates a powerful image of the rich man’s descent into a smoky and shadowy netherworld, while the beggar Lazarus, now protected by the Old Testament patriarch, sits on Abraham’s shoulder.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886–1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 8 13/16 x 5 3/16 in. (22.4 x 13.2 cm) Sheet: 8 13/16 x 5 3/16 in. (22.4 x 13.2 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed top left: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.136
    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 Bad Rich Man in Hell (Le mauvais riche dans l'Enfer), 1886–1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 8 13/16 x 5 3/16 in. (22.4 x 13.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.136 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.136_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.136_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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