Sarai is Taken to Pharaoh's Palace

James Tissot, Sarai is Taken to Pharaoh's Palace, c. 1896-1902, Gouache on board, Jewish Museum, New York.

James Tissot’s early career focused on large-scale paintings of stylish women in scenes of fashionable life in London and Paris. Like Mattise, he used beautiful fabrics and women’s fashions extensively in his paintings. In 1885 he had a revival of his Catholic faith and had a vision that sent him down a different path. He imagined a series on the life of Christ and devoted the next ten years to the project taking three trips to the Middle East arriving in Jerusalem for the first time in the autumn of 1886. Historical accuracy was important to Tissot, and he made copious notes and sketches to record the landscape, architecture, costumes, and customs of the Holy Land. He saw nineteenth century Judea as a timeless place in which events of the biblical past continued to be taking place despite the passage of centuries and his biblical paintings are a wonderful mix of contemporary and imagined ancient styles.


Associated with a deity; exhibiting religious importance; set apart from ordinary (i.e. "profane") things.

the southern kingdom of Judah during the divided monarchy or what later became the larger province under imperial control

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