James Tissot, Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream, circa 1896–1902. Gouache on board.
James Tissot was a fashionable Frenchman who spent most of his career in London after fleeing the Paris Commune in 1871. He was a friend and mentor to Edgar Degas. Popular in London society, Tissot focused on painting fashionably dressed women in scenes of leisure. In 1882, after the death of his beloved companion Kathleen Newton, he moved back to France. Like many English people at this time, Tissot became interested in Spiritualism and experienced a profound religious experience. He became increasingly devout in his Catholic faith and embarked on a series of religious paintings, visiting the Middle East several times to observe and paint backgrounds for his works. The style of these later biblical paintings is softer and more ethereal than his earlier vivid works.