Le Matin (Morning) and more art by James Tissot

Le Matin (Morning), 1886
72 x 55 cm (h x w)
Mezzotint on paper
not for sale
[Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of the Des Moines Art Center Print Club, 1984.18]

(Gift Print, 1984)

James Tissot was one of the few 19th century artists to use mezzotint as an original (that is, not reproductive) printmaking medium. Invented in the 17th century, the mezzotint gained popularity among reproductive printmakers because it was ideal for copying the darks and lights of oil paintings. In this direct engraving technique, the entire plate is roughened with a toothed tool that is rocked over the plate. The artist then uses a burnishing tool and scraper to work highlights back into the dark areas. James Tissot had a marvelous understanding of the possibilities of the medium. In this print he succeeded in capturing the maid’s backlit diaphanous dress and the glint of light on silver, china and glass.
When Print Club members voted to choose the year’s gift print at the 1984 Annual Meeting, Tissot’s mezzotint tied with Virginia Myers’s print. Vote after vote, the tie was unbreakable until one member anonymously offered to donate the funds to make both purchases possible.

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