Portrait of Catherine Smith Gill and two of her children

WAG 9523


The French painter, printmaker and enamellist Jacques Tissot moved to England to escape punishment for his participation in the Paris Commune which collapsed in 1871. Tissot stayed in England for ten years and became extremely successful as a portrait painter of wealthy people, in particular fashionable ladies. Chapple Gill, who was a senior partner in a Liverpool firm of cotton brokers commissioned Tissot to paint a portrait of his wife, Catherine, their two year old son, Robert, and their six year old daughter, Helen, at their house in Woolton, Liverpool. The care and affection with which Tissot painted Mrs Gill may reflect the painter's love for another woman, the Irish divorcee, Mrs Kathleen Newton. She and her two children became Tissot's favourite subject matter from 1875 until her death in 1882. The quick brushwork in the leaves of the trees, the furniture and the dress of Mrs Gill reveal the impressionist manner of Tissot, who declined an invitation by Degas in 1874 to exhibit with the Impressionists.