PROPERTY FROM A SOUTH AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
The subject of In Church is identical to that of Le Confessional, exhibited at the Salon in 1866. Rather than depicting religious ritual or the narrative symbolism that had been present in his three depictions of the story of Faust and Marguerite painted in 1861, with In Church and Le Confessional Tissot was more interested in portraying contemporary fashion and feminine beauty. As Christopher Wood suggested, Tissot was; 'attracted by the irony of putting his pretty, smartly dressed girls in church, a trick also used by Stevens; but a comparison with the earlier pictures of Marguerite in church shows how far he had moved on. Instead of the rather earnest attempts to convey religious sincerity in the Marguerite pictures, Tissot allows his ladies of the 1860s to be almost entirely decorative' (Christopher Wood, Tissot, 1986, p.34).
It is perhaps misleading to look for a narrative in In Church and as Wood suggested, perhaps it was intended to be entirely decorative. However he does seem to be making a humorous statement about modern fashion by placing this elegant young lady in a voluminous gown and cape amongst a blockade of humble wooden and wicker chairs which are impeding her path. The traditionally-dressed old women in their lace caps and shawls are a contrast with the flawless youth of the pretty girl's face. To prevent any suggestion that Tissot had meant to contrast the austerity of the church setting with a questionable reputation for the woman, Tissot depicted her with one glove removed to display a wedding-ring. Tucked neatly into her fur muffler is the glove and a small pocket-sized Bible, further evidence of the woman's good character.
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