James Tissot

The Letter

c. 1878
The letter is a favourite Victorian symbol of absent or unrequited love. Torn in shreds, the letter in this theme painting flutters to the ground to lie among decorative chestnut leaves. The setting is Tissot's garden in London, where he lived for eleven years.

- Graves Art Gallery Sheffield, Tissot exhibition, May 1955, lent by Hon. Mrs. Nellie Ionides, no. 34
- James Bourlet & Sons Ltd. Fine Art Packers, Frame Makers, H 16321, 17 & 18 Nassau Street, Mortimer St. W.
- Leicester Galleries, London W.C. 2, Fine Art Publishers
- G. Tissot, no. 3234 S A (belongs perhaps to the Leicester sticker)
- The House of Hydenryk, New York (frame maker)

by 1953 – 1963
The Hon. Mrs Nellie Ionides, née Samuel (1883–1962), London, UK

1963/05/29 –
P. Claas, London, purchased at the sale of the Ionides collection, Sotheby's, London, May 29th, 1963, lot no. 170 [1]

by 1964/04
James Coats, New York, USA [2]

1964/04 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from James Coats, New York [3]

[1] According to Reynolds and lender's reference in a 1955 exhibition catalogue the painting was owned by Hon. Mrs Nellie Ionides [Reynolds, Graham. "Painters of the Victorian Scene." London: Batsford, 1953, p. 99, pl. 100] and [Graves Art Gallery. "James Tissot (1836-1902). An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Etchings." Sheffield, 1955, no. 34]. After her death the painting was included in her estate sale at Sotheby's, London, in 1963. In the auction catalogue's list of the prices and buyer's names is P. Claas listed as the purchaser ["Fine Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Drawings and Paintings", Sotheby's, London, May 29th, 1963, lot no. 170].

[2] See the invoice from James Coats, 39 East 72nd Street, New York City, dated April 27th, 1964 [NGC curatorial file].

[3] See the shipment record inward of the National Gallery of Canada, dated April 20th, 1964 [NGC curatorial file].

Signed and dated at right on base of urn: J.J. Tissot 187[8?]

The Letter
c. 1878
oil on canvas
71.4 x 107.1 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1964
Accession number