TISSOT, James (Jacques Joseph) (1836-1902):

The Return , from The Parable of the Prodigal Son, a set of four plus title plate

Etching and drypoint, 1881-2. Béraldi XII, 50; Wentworth 250.60.

A group of four proofs: two undescribed working proofs, one lighter and one with rich burr, before the first state cleaning of test scratches in the lower margin; Wentworth’s first state* with extensive additional work and the signature and date 1881 lightly etched; and Wentworth’s completed second state with inscriptions, here with the number painted out. Possibly part of the twenty-one proofs in different states sold as Lot 113 of the Vente Tissot in 1903. 314 x 373mm.
The group $4,800

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Tissot began working on this series the year after completion of four paintings, “The Prodigal Son in Modern Times”, which were first exhibited to enormous success, alongside the preparatory water colours, in a London gallery in 1882. They went on to be shown in world fairs in Paris and Chicago. Unlike artists of earlier periods who enjoyed depicting the prodigal son among the swine he was forced to herd to stay alive, Tissot only alludes to them indirectly as they exit the boat, and focuses instead on the intensely emotional reunion of father and son. Such was their popularity that a fairly large edition of the finished prints was produced by Tissot, 400 with letters and 100 before letters. His great care in preparing the plates is demonstrated by these working proofs.