On 12 July Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki celebrated the return of the severely damaged painting Still on Top (c1874), stolen in an armed robbery three years ago, with the opening of the exhibition featuring the work of the 19th century artist James Tissot.
To contextualise the restored work, curator Mary Kisler has borrowed a small number of paintings and works on paper, locally and from Australia, that trace the London years during which Still on Top was produced. The Simpson Grierson sponsored exhibition considers the way in which Tissot incorporated the narrative tradition admired in Academic circles alongside the Impressionists' focus on scenes from everyday life. Like James McNeill Whistler, he was initially drawn in his art to the river Thames as a social setting. This subject matter was gradually replaced after he set up house at Grove End Road, St John's Wood, its garden setting becoming the painted backdrop against which he explored modern manners.
The exhibition also considers the influences on his work, discussing his relationship to other French artists of his time, as well as the important role of Japanese prints in his choice of composition. Lastly, it looks at his developing obsession with the mysterious Mrs Newton, who eventually subsumed all other interests to become his overriding focus; one which only drew to a close with her premature death from consumption at the age of 28.
In addition, the exhibition provides a fascinating discussion of the knowledge gained during the conservation process of Still on Top, both of Tissot's painting technique and the materials he used.
- Curated by
- Mary Kisler
- Main Gallery
- Free entry