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The woman in Chrysanthemums is almost overwhelmed by the brilliant blooms surrounding her. She has rolled up her sleeves to adjust a pot, her blurred features suggesting we have caught a glimpse of her in motion. Tissot staged this scene in the conservatory attached to his studio, a glass panel of which is visible in the picture’s top left corner. Conservatories were associated with the “cultivation” of proper Victorian women as well as with nurturing plants, associations that add nuance to this scene of intimate domesticity.


Edward Hermon, London (by 1877–82, his sale, Christie’s, London, 13 May 1882, no. 80, sold to Tooth); [Arthur Tooth and Son, London, from 1882]; Surgeon-Major John Ewart Martin, South Africa; private collection, South Africa, by descent from Martin; sale, Phillips, London, 14 Dec. 1993, no. 67; [Christopher Wood Gallery, London, sold to the Clark, 1994]; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1994.

James Tissot

French, 1836–1902


c. 1874–76

Oil on canvas

46 5/8 x 30 in. (118.4 x 76.2 cm) Frame: 57 15/16 x 41 1/4 in. (147.2 x 104.8 cm)

Acquired in honor of David S. Brooke (Institute Director, 1977–94), 1994