Tissot's In the Conservatory (Rivals) makes $2m in New York

In the Conservatory (Rivals) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902)  was the top lot of Christie's 19th Century European Art sale on October 28.

The piece, completed in 1878, sold for $2m in New York.

The work showcases Tissot's characteristic skill in storytelling - featuring an ambiguous scene in a conservatory in which the viewer is invited to deduce the relationship between the figures.

Tissot Conservatory Christie's
Tissot's painting used to hang in the Museum of Modern Art in New York

A prolific French-born painter who moved to London in 1871, Tissot worked as a cartoonist for Vanity Fair alongside his work as an artist.

He was a friend and contemporary of a number of well-known painters of the late 1800s including Degas, Manet and Whistler. His auction record remains $3m for Le Banc de Jardin.

Edmund Blair Leighton's A Call to Arms achieved $485,000. One of Leighton's celebrated medieval paintings, the piece features a knight called to battle on his wedding day.

A popular artist, his work often achieves six figure results at auction. Alan Chartier, a painting from 1903, sold for £311,750 ($422,198) at Christie's London in 2001.

A Difficult Passage in the Talmud by Isidor Kaufmann (1853-1921) also achieved a strong result, hammering for $353,000. The work depicts a young Jewish scholar engrossed in his studies.

Kaufmann was among the most significant Jewish genre painters of the 19th century, who painted nostalgic and romantic scenes of life in the shtetls.

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