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Storm of life

Posted June. 03, 2021 07:29,   

Updated June. 03, 2021 07:29


How can there be only warm spring days in life? We are bound to meet heavy storms during the course of our lives. This painting showcases a young man and woman against the backdrop of the ocean. While the sky is filled with dark clouds like just before a rainstorm, the man is standing outside on the terrace. The woman whose back is turned against him is lying on a divan indoors, looking at the viewers outside the painting. Who are they? What are they doing on this gloomy day?

Nineteenth-century French painter James Tissot gained wealth and fame in the U.K. He earned a success big enough to buy a mansion in London the year after his move to the city. His paintings that capture the images of the high society in a sensual manner were not well-received by critics but highly popular among art buyers. The painting described above depicts the most brilliant spring day of his life. The models in the painting are Tissot himself and his muse, Kathleen Newton. Newton was an attractive 22-year-old Irish woman but divorced with two out-of-wedlock births. The second child is believed to be Tissot’s. The painting was made around the time when she moved in with him with her kids. As the two started to live together, people’s criticism and mockery poured in. A successful professional painter living with a divorcee with two love children was unacceptable for the then-societal convention. Despite the prejudice and contempt of the rest of the world, the two loved each other deeply in the happiest moment of their lives. This painting that captures the moment of a lovers' quarrel showcases Newton in the most precious and lovely way. The storm in the background symbolizes minor conflicts commonly found between lovers. Unlike the man who seems depressed, the woman looks relaxed as if she would make up with him soon.

As the title “A Passing Storm” suggests, a storm is bound to go away. The two must have thought they could endure any challenges ahead together. However, life doesn’t always go as you wish. Newton who suffered from tuberculosis died at the age of 28, ending their six-year relationship. The storm was too much.