James Tissot

The Holiday (Still on Top)

The Holiday (Still on Top) by James Tissot

Artwork Detail

James (Jacques-Joseph) Tissot specialised in paintings of women and scenes of contemporary everyday life, many of which focus on the social mores and the dynamics of relationships between the sexes in both Victorian London and the Paris of the Third Republic. Many artists of the period took account of new developments in photography, especially as faster shutter speeds allowed more relaxed and informal poses than were possible with earlier cameras. Japanese ukiyo-e prints depicting a single moment in everyday rituals, a kind of 'snapshot' effect, were also influential. Both Still on Top and another version of the subject, Preparing for the Gala, have photographic qualities, the former serving as a close-up of the latter. In both paintings two women assist an elderly servant wearing a red Communards cap, to raise a line of flags. Tissot fought on the side of the Communards during the 1871 Siege of Paris. It has been suggested that the painting's title refers to the British Union Jack, largely obscured at the top right. Knowing the artist's reputation for parody and wit, the title of the painting could well be laced with deliberate irony. Still on Top was stolen briefly from the Gallery's collection in 1998, just after Preparing for the Gala had appeared on the market in America. Although it suffered some damage, Still on Top has been painstakingly conserved and can again be enjoyed by Gallery visitors. (from The Guide, 2001)

The Holiday (Still on Top)
James Tissot
Production date
oil on canvas
876 x 533 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Viscount Leverhulme, 1921
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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