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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.8 'Vanity Fair', preliminary study

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This black and white impression of the lithographic portrait of Darwin attributed to James Tissot is hand-coloured in watercolour and touched with pencil, as a study for the final version published in Vanity Fair in September 1871. It would have been intended as a ‘pattern’ for the colour-printers, as was the usual practice in the production of chromolithographs. Its source was a sale of the collection of ‘D. Mitford’ at Christie’s in March 1912, consisting of drawings for the Vanity Fair series, dating from 1869 to 1889; the caricature of Darwin (lot 197) was bought by ‘C. Davis’. A prefatory note to Christie’s catalogue explained, ‘Sixteen of the drawings by Tissot were partly drawn in outline by him on lithographic stone in black; one copy of each was then printed, and that copy was completed and coloured by Tissot.’ ‘D. Mitford’ was presumably the Hon. David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale, who was son-in-law of Thomas Gibson Bowles, the founder of Vanity Fair – a fact which would explain the provenance of the drawings. It is not known how the watercolour proof version of Tissot’s caricature of Darwin passed from C. Davis to Christ’s College. 

  • physical location Old Library, Christ’s College, Cambridge 

  • accession or collection number CC00053 

  • copyright holder Christ’s College, Cambridge 

  • originator of image James (Jacques Joseph) Tissot 

  • date of creation August-September 1871 

  • computer-readable date c. 1871-08-01 to 1871-09-29 

  • medium and material pencil and watercolour with lithographic outline 

  • references and bibliography Sale at Christie’s, 5-8 March 1912 (first day, lot 197), bought by C. Davis. J.W. Goodison, Catalogue of the Portraits in Christ’s, Clare and Sidney Sussex Colleges (Cambridge Antiquarian Records Society, vol. 7) (Cambridge: 1985), catalogue no.16, p. 10, plate IX. J. van Wyhe, ‘Iconography’, p. 183. 


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