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Thursday 11 April 2024

James Joseph Tissot, “The Prodigal Son: Frontispiece”, 1881/82

James Joseph Tissot (1836–1902)

“The Prodigal Son: Frontispiece” (aka “L'Enfant Prodigue: Frontispice”), 1881 (date inscribed in plate)/1882, Trompe-l'œil title plate to the series of four plates, “The Prodigal Son in Modern Life” with each of the titles of the following plates shown in the portrayed open book along with the Biblical references to the Gospel of St. Luke, published in 1882 by James Joseph Tissot in London.

Based on the excellent description of this print offered by 1st DiBS, I understand that the suite of prints was published in an edition or 400 impressions in the lettered state (see

Etching with retroussage work—a technique employed when wiping the still wet plate to allow ink to “spill” over the lines—and pale surface tone printed in burnt umber coloured ink on wove paper, trimmed with a thread margin around the platemark and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 35.8 x 46.1 cm; (plate) 35.5 x 45.7 cm.

Lettered in plate: (lower right) “Invented,/ Painted &/ Etched/ by/ J. J. TISSOT,/ 1881./ 17, Grove End Rd. St. John's Wood,/ LONDON.”; (On the open pages of book) facsimile text to the parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11–32) in English with the titles of the prints in the series with the relevant passages lettered “No. 1 THE DEPARTURE.”; “No. II IN FOREIGN CLIMES.”; “No. III THE RETURN.”; “No. IV THE FATTED CALF.”

State ii (of ii) with the addition of the publication details. Note that Wentworth (1987) advises that there is only a single state.

Beraldi 48 (Henri Béraldi 1892, “Les Graveurs du XIXe Siècle: Guide de l'Amateur d'Estampes Modernes: SAINT-MARCEL– ZWINGER”, vol. XII, Paris, Librairie L. Conquet, p. 132, cat. no. 48); Wentworth 57 (Michael Justin Wentworth 1987, “James Tissot: Catalogue Raisonné of his Prints”, Minneapolis, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, p. 246, cat. no. 57)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print (not reproduced): “Frontispiece to a series of four etchings: open book with cord ties, some of the pages marked, with Biblical text from the Gospel of St Luke over two pages, the episodes those depicted in the series. 1882” ( See also the description of this print offered by the Rijksmuseum (reproduced):

Condition: a richly inked and well-printed impression trimmed along the platemark and laid onto a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. There are minor chips and tears, otherwise, this large print is in a good condition with no significant stains.

I am selling this large an unusual title-plate etching for a suite of prints offering a fresh contemporary context for the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, for AU$402 in total (currently US$262.11/EUR245.34/GBP209.35 at the time of posting this listing) including Express (EMS) postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this rare etching executed by an artist who is a leading artist of 19th century and a close friend of many of the key figures, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold 

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