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About the artwork

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 and captured in her face the concept of motherhood may reflect the painter's love for 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 however declined an invitation by Degas in 1874 to exhibit with the Impressionists.