James Tissot, “Issaac Bears the Wood for His Sacrifice,” c. 1896-1902. Credit: The Jewish Museum, New York, Gift of the heirs of Jacob Schiff.

The Jewish Museum presents Tissot and the Bible, an installation of original designs by the French painter James Tissot (1836-1902) from a group of more than 350 paintings related to his goal of illustrating the Hebrew Bible. Spanning all of the books, from Genesis to the Prophets, Tissot’s watercolor illustrations are some of the most beloved and sought-after images in the Jewish Museum’s collection. The biblical stories are illustrated in cinematic vignettes that have influenced popular culture for decades. Tissot and the Bible is on view through June 2025.

A realist painter, Tissot was trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In October 1886, following a religious vision, he traveled to the Middle East as part of a grand plan to illustrate the Christian Bible. Due to the wide acclaim for those illustrations, the artist decided in the 1890s to paint stories from the Hebrew Bible, inspired by the numerous books of Jewish history, law, and poetry. During sojourns in the Middle East, Tissot made detailed drawings of its peoples and places for inspiration. Tissot also used photography and models to stage dramatic scenes.  In 1902, before the publication of his work, Tissot died.  The series was ultimately completed by gifted artists, who finished Tissot’s original designs or created works that were in harmony with his style.

This installation of over 30 works is presented as part of the Museum’s collection exhibition Scenes from the Collection. These works will be rotated every 4-6 months through June 2025 with other original designs selected from the suite.

Tissot and the Bible is organized by Stephen Brown, Curator, the Jewish Museum.

About the Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum is an art museum committed to illuminating the complexity and vibrancy of Jewish culture for a global audience. Located on New York City’s famed Museum Mile, in the landmarked Warburg mansion, the Jewish Museum was the first institution of its kind in the United States and is one of the oldest Jewish museums in the world. The Museum offers diverse exhibitions and programs and maintains a unique collection of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media reflecting the global Jewish experience over more than 4,000 years. The public may call 212.423.3200 or visit TheJewishMuseum.org for more information.

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