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Tissot occupies a unique and ambivalent position in 19th-century painting. Born a Frenchman, he sought fame in England, and after a brilliant career as a society painter he turned late in life to religion. He set his glittering and minutely detailed scenes in elegant London ballrooms and conservatoires and peopled them with chic young women in ravishing costumes, while at the same time investing them with a note of brooding melancholy. This became overwhelming in his many portraits of his mistress Kathleen Newton, and ...

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