Charles(-Victor) Tillot (1825 – 1895)
a forgotten key-figure within Impressionism
Was Tillot an Impressionist?
Charles Tillot exhibited at 6 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions. Only Pissarro, Degas, Morisot and Rouart did exhibit more often. So this is more often than Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Gauguin and Cézanne. In most books about Impressionism Charles Tillot is not mentioned at all or mainly as partaker of ‘impressionist’ expositions. On the internet the RKD (iR24) and the-athenaeum (iR2) don’t mention him. The information I could find on the internet is very limited and I could find less than 10 pictures made by Tillot. How come that this main figure within the ‘impressionist’ expositions is so forgotten?
Because of the limited information I can’t tell if Tillot was active in the organisation and preparations of the ‘impressionist’ expositions. It is known that Tillot had close contacts with Degas and Rouart and indirectly with Cassatt. And also with pre-impressionists like Rousseau and Millet. About other contacts with Impressionists there is not much known. I hope that by studying sources around Degas, Rouart, Cassatt, Rousseau and Millet there will be more known about Tillot. Because Tillot so often participated within the ‘impressionist’ expositions and because he belonged to an important circle of friends (that of Degas and Rouart) I dare to claim that Tillot was a main figure within the ‘impressionist’ art-movement. I hope that in the future he will be rehabilitated and will receive ample space within books on Impressionism.
Sources state that Tillot painted in the style of the Barbizon school and that his flower pieces are not impressionistic. When I look at the small number of his pictures I notice that they are quite colourful, but that he also uses several brown and greyish tones. He doesn’t use small juxtaposed brushstrokes. In his work of the Sacré Coeur he uses violet tones for the shades. In many of his titles Tillot renders an indication of place, though often not very detailed. In just 1 title he renders an indication of season (1880-197) and in just 1 an indication of weather (1886-203). So probably Tillot did not paint in an explicit impressionist style, though there were some impressionist tendencies. But I hope that in the near future there will be more works known of Tillot, so we are able to give a more reasoned opinion.
Charles(-Victor) Tillot and the Salon:
Tillot exhibited at the Salon des Refusés in 1863 and at the Salon in 1870. (iR1) Sources indicate that Tillot made his debut at the Salon of 1846 with a self-portrait (R9;iR3;iR4;R3;R16). He probably also exhibited in 1849, 1855 (iR4;iR3) and 1848, 1859 + 1861 and maybe also later on in 1892 (iR1).
Charles Tillot joined 6 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions:
At the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 Tillot showed 8 works (catalogue numbers 245-252; R2,p165).
At the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1877 Tillot showed 14 works (catalogue numbers 228-241; R2,p206/7).
At the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1879 Tillot showed 12 works (catalogue numbers 231-241; R2,p27/1), no.238 containing 2 works.
At the 5th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1880 Tillot showed at least 16 works (catalogue numbers 193-206; R2,p314), no. 204+205 both containing at least 2 works. A critic of the Gaulois (1880/04/02) mentions that he rather would be quiet about Tillot and others (R22I,p159).
At the 6th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1881 Tillot showed at least 11 works (catalogue numbers 140-149; R2,p356), no. 149 containing at least 2 works. During the preparations in a lettre to Pissarro (1881/01/24) Caillebotte was opposed to the crowd that Degas dragged along. ‘The only ones of his friends who have any right (to exhibit) are Rouart and Tillot…’ (R1,p449). Rewald mentions there were distinct factions in 1881 and he includes Tillot to the faction of Degas (R1,p449).
Tillot didn’t exhibit at the 7th exposition in 1882, because Jean-François Raffaëlli was refused and therefor Degas didn’t participate either. Tillot showed solidarity with them. (iR4).
At the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1886 Tillot showed 17 works (catalogue numbers 202-217; R2,p447), no. 210 containing of 2 works. Fénénon reviewed that Tillot rendered his works with a sober persistance (R9).
Tillot was invited by Degas (R3;R5,p125)
See link for his pictures and an +/-account.
Tillot as an artist:
Tillot was a pupil of Henry (or: Ary or: Hendrik) Scheffer and later on of Théodore Rousseau (iR1;aR4;aR5;aR7;iR4;iR3;iR69;R9;R3;R16). Rousseau also became a friend of his (aR4;aR5). Also inspired by Millet (R9;R3;iR3). He painted in the style of the Barbizon school (R3). Others say that this style developed into a more impressionist style with more atmospheric fluidity and light (R9). He mainly painted landscapes, portraits and still lives / flower pieces (R3,p193;R16;iR4). The latter are not to be called impressionistic (R3,p193).
Friendship with Degas and Ernest & Henri Rouart (iR4;R9;R3;R1,p366;iR3). 1860 onwards Jean-François Millet became his neighbour and his friend; Tillot and his wife became godparents for Anne-Marie Millet and they took care for him during his deathbed in 1875. Tillot wrote the posthumous catalogue des ‘oeuvres de J.-François Millet’ for the auction at Hôtel Drouot, including a biography. (aR1;aR7;aR5;aR4;iR4;iR3;iR40) Also indirect contacts with Cassatt (iR4;iR3). Tillot became withdrawn is his later life (iR3).
Tillot also was a collector of Japanese prints (R3;iR3;iR4).
1851 onwards Tillot also was an art-critic for ‘Le Siècle’; he reviewed the Salon from 1851-54 (aR4;iR3;R3;iR4;aR8;aR7). In 1853 he reviewed a work of Rousseau ‘a march in Les Landes’ (18852-3, 63×97, Louvre): ‘in spite of a most accomplished execution, he has been able to retain in his painting the same qualities that are found in his fine sketches’ (aR9).
He also did some photography and was member of the ‘Société Française de photographie’ from 1871-94 (iR26;iR3).
Charles-Victor Tillot, a short biography:
- 1825/04/09: Charles-Victor Tillot was born in Rouen (aR7;iR4;iR3;R3;iR1;iR26)
some render 1823/04/09 as date of birth (aR5;aR8)
- 1829/10/17: his brother Emile was born (aR7).
He would later work and publish as a medical doctor (aR7)
- 1839: arrived in Paris; study at the école des Beaux-Arts (R3;R9;iR3;aR4)
- 1846-8: Tillot lived at 30, rue Fontaine-Saint-Georges, Paris (iR1)
- 1849-86: Tillot lived at 42, rue Fontaine (Saint-Georges), Paris (iR1); close to Degas (iR1;iR26;iR4;aR5;R2); probably in 1877 wrongly noted as 4, rue Fontaine-St.-George (R2,p207)
- 1855: Tillot dwelled at 92, Rue d’Hauteville, Paris (iR1)
- 1860: moved to Barbizon, bought the house ‘La Taupinière’, and lived across his neighbour Millet (iR4;R9;iR3)
- 1863: he lived in Barbizon (Seine-et-Marne) (iR1) How long did live in Barbizon? Probably he still lived there when Millet died in 1875.
- 1868: Tillot with others was involved in a posthumous sale of works of Rousseau (iR23); Tillot wrote a biography (aR4) ‘a catalogue des oeuvres de Théodore Rousseau’ (aR5;aR7)
- 1876: Tillot dwelled at 7, rue Duperré (R2,p165)
- 1877: several sources (mostly auction sites) wrongly render this as his year of death (iR41;iR11;iR16)
- 1892: (probably) his son René Tillot, born in Barbizon, living at 42, Rue Fontaine exhibited a drawing for architecture at the Salon (iR1) Did Charles Tillot move after 1886 back to Rouen and let his son René dwell in his former house?
- 1895: Tillot died in Rouen (R3;iR3;iR4)
- 1895: retrospective at Durand-Ruel (R9;R3)
My main sources are Rewald (1973=R1), Moffett (1986, R2;0x picture), Walther (2013, R3,p700; 1x picture,p264), Denvir (1993, R5), Schurr&Cabanne (2008=R9,p698), Spiess (1992=R16,p339), Wildenstein (1996=R22,vol.I), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3+4), BNF (iR26+iR40), Bénézit (iR69), revolvy (iR123) and the additional references (aRx; see below). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are Wikimedia (iR6), Google images (iR10), Artnet (iR13), Artprice (iR16; 8x), invaluable (iR17), Arcadja (iR18) and the additional references (aRx). For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading:
Bénézit (1976=R75); Busse (1977=R77); Witt (1978=R78); Thieme/Becker (=R79); Künstlerlexikon (R81). (iR60)
Additional references (=aRx):
- gallica.bnf (the posthumous auction catalogue of Millet with a preface by Tillot=iR40)
- gallica.bnf (auction catalogue 1901/04/26 of Japanese art from the collection of Tillot=iR40)
- gallica.bnf (auction catalogue 1900/06/16 of Japanese prints from the collection of Tillot=iR40)
- gallica.bnf (notice on Tillot in Glaeser (1878): Biographie nationale des contemporains =iR40)
- gallica.bnf (notice on Tillot in ‘Dictionnaire général des artistes de l’École française’ (1882-5) started by Émile Bellier de La Chavignerie =iR40)
- gallica.bnf (short notice on Tillot in ‘Nouvelle biographie normande’ by Oursel (1886-1912 = iR40)
- archive.org (more extended notice on Tillot in ‘Nouvelle biographie Normande’ by Oursel = iR133)
- media19.org (references / links to aR4-7)
- google.books (review of Tillot on ‘the landscapes of Rousseau’ p52=iR131)