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Jesus Walks on the Sea (Jésus marche sur la mer)

James Tissot

European Art

While Jesus retreats to the mountain to pray, his disciples travel ahead of him, sailing once more across stormy waters. Seeking to calm the frightened apostles, Jesus walks across the sea, but this further terrifies them as they momentarily believe him to be a ghost.

Tissot attempts to explain the fears of the disciples, in a commentary that melds his interests in scientific observation and in legend: noting the early hour designated by the Gospel account—3 a.m.—and the weather conditions, he surmises that the darkness must have been complete. But finding no other explanation for a source of light to illuminate Christ, he concludes that “light emanated from His body, and irradiated all around Him to some extent.” He concludes that only the voice of Jesus with its recognizable “ordinary” salutation—“Be of good cheer”—could reassure the disciples.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on green wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 11 3/16 x 4 13/16 in. (28.4 x 12.2 cm) Sheet: 11 3/16 x 4 13/16 in. (28.4 x 12.2 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
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.138
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Walks on the Sea (Jésus marche sur la mer), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on green wove paper, Image: 11 3/16 x 4 13/16 in. (28.4 x 12.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.138 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.138_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.138_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
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