James Tissot’s genre painting Quiet shows the artist’s Irish muse, Kathleen Newton, posing with her niece in the garden of Tissot’s London home.

Born Jacques Tissot in Nantes, France, the artist trained as a painter in Paris. He soon became successful, showing his work at the Paris Salon as well as experimenting with scenes of modern life alongside Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas. After the Paris Commune of 1871 Tissot moved to London, where he bought a house in St John’s Wood and went under the anglicised name of James.

While in London, Tissot met Newton, who was living nearby with her sister. Newton had been raised by Irish parents in India and had been divorced after an arranged marriage. She already had a daughter, and then in 1876 she gave birth to a son, who may have been Tissot’s child. Newton and her children moved into the artist’s home around this time.

Newton soon became the principal model for Tissot’s genre paintings, including Mavourneen (1877), the title of which is derived from the Irish term of endearment meaning ‘my darling’. She was known in the artist’s circle as ‘la ravissante Irlandaise’, the ravishing Irish woman, and widely admired for her stylish appearances in his work. She contracted tuberculosis and died after a possible laudanum overdose in 1882, aged just 28.

Quiet joins the collection at Ulster Museum, where it represents an outstanding example of Tissot’s work, as well as a fascinating depiction of an Irish woman who challenged Victorian social conventions. Newton’s upbringing in India also provides opportunities for discussion of the colonial experience of Irish people throughout the 19th century.

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With Guillaume Campo, Antwerpwith Lady Adby, London from whom purchased by the late owner, thence by descent'Quiet' has not been seen on the market for more than 50 years. It was acquired from Lady Adby, a celebrated dealer in the artist's

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