Book Review- The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot – Lucy Paquette ****

Having just returned from a trip to Amsterdam and a tour around the Van Gogh museum I am reminded how much I enjoy reading about the lives of the painters and the changing worlds that they found themselves in so I found myself revisiting this book.

In “The Hammock” Lucy Paquette has written a fictionalised novel based on the life of James Tissot and the ten years he spent in London. By 1870 Tissot was a multi-millionaire celebrity in Paris. Living in a mansion near the Arc de Triomphe he was friends with some esteemed painters like Whistler, Degas and Millais. When Paris was attacked by the Prussians Tissot fought for his city before fleeing to London.

In London he managed to rebuild his career and reputation and was well established in British society. Six years later he met an Irish divorcée who became his muse and his mistress. Infatuation with this woman sees him drop out of the circuit and just stay in his garden painting this beautiful woman. The stories about his personal life and the ensuing explicit paintings saw Victorian London turning their back on Tissot as he pushed the boundaries on respectable morality.

If you have an interest in nineteenth century Art and the people behind the paintings you’ll find this book a fascinating glimpse into the characters of the day. It is a tragic story that can’t fail to pique your interest in this wonderful and enigmatic artist.

UK Publication Date: Oct 10 2012. 295 pages.

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