The Biblical Paintings of James Tissot


In the history of painting no artist painted as much of the Bible as James Tissot. At the age of 49 Tissot had a revival in his Catholic faith, already an established painter, he spent the next 17 years of his life painting the Bible. His initial work was in the gospels and he painted almost every event from the four gospels, including some landscape and portraits of Biblical figures. The paintings were published multiple times in books usually with the title “The Life of Our Savior Jesus Christ”. There were 365 main paintings some editions have 462 because they contain line drawing studies. Most of these originals are owned by the Brooklyn Museum

He then began to paint the old testament and died in the process of that, though his assistants finished most of his planned work. These were published in a couple of editions and there are 396 of them in all. Most of the original water colors of these are owned by the Jewish Museum.

He never painted Acts, the Letters or Revelation.

Where to get his art:

  1. Both the Brooklyn Museum who owns his gospel art and the Jewish Museum who own his old testament art have scans from his printed books of his paintings online. The Jewish museum has only about one third of his old testament images. The Brooklyn Museum has maybe 320. Often these photos are of average size and the colors are dull. Most of what you find floating around are just copies of these. This includes kindles that contain the images.
  2. Glo Bible Software – Glo has 69 of his Gospel paintings in the program. These are beautifully color adjusted and are a truly massive size, for instance the one below is 5522 x 3704. Though the Glo pictures are hard to access at their full resolution. (See bottom of the post for an example)
  3. Their was a site, which I will write more about named Christ Images that used to sell a package of touched up art, again their copies were beautifully color adjusted and massive, but unfortunately the site was taken down a long time ago.
  4. Logos Bible Software – Logos has collected many but not all of Tissot’s paintings into 3 of their products, these copies are the same copies the Brooklyn Museum and Jewish Museum put out, culled off wikiart. The tagging on them is poor, so compared to many logos resources there is not much search value added by having them in Logos. There are multiple ways to get them in Logos:
    1. Verbum Sacred Art – James Tissot – This is actually part of a package with 4 other artists, the advantage to these is you get a table of contents, though the pics are listed in no particular order and some of the names are obscure.
    2. Logos Media – The paintings though not mentioned were part of this base package product, unfortunately the media search is so poor it is hard to find any of them without browsing
    3. Logos Now – Logos Now has a new media search and the Tissot paintings are here as well, but they are still poorly tagged.
Christ Healing the Lame in the Temple by James Tissot from Glo Bible Software
Christ Healing the Lame in the Temple by James Tissot from Glo Bible Software


Eighteen Types of (Mostly) Visual Media to Use in Biblical Narrative Teaching

In teaching Biblical narrative if you are retelling the story there are a variety of useful types of media that can and should be used when teaching, here is a list:

  1. Paintings and sculptures that represent the text – these burn the event into the viewers mind and make the whole thing more real.
  2. Maps – Give the student a view of where things happened
  3. Modern Day Pictures of Where things happened – This grounds into the student that this stuff is real.
  4. Architectural Reconstructions – I love these, they give the student a feel of the ancient world.
  5. Scripture Quotes – In general when telling the story only a highlight of the scripture should be shown, Logos Bible Software has some great methods of making these which I will go over in another post.
  6. Quotes from Famous People – I will go over making these as well
  7. Archaeology Pieces – Again impress on the students that this stuff is real, very important with young people.
  8. Object Reconstructions – See what the Ark of the Covenant would have looked like, through an artist’s eyes.
  9. Comedy – Put cartoons, to add levity
  10. Moral Application Slides – This is important to balance the story with the greater meaning.
  11. Time Lines – To give viewers a sense of when things happened.
  12. Cultural Artifacts – These are artifacts that don’t relate directly to the Bible, but that show an ancient practice was in place. This is usually what most visual Christian books are full of and are the most boring for visual teaching. (I will write more on this later)
  13. Games – Intersperse mini-games in teaching, it highly engages people and helps them to remember more.
  14. Social Situations – Have a projector that can project a background? Then you can create any social situation you want to play out and is a great way to engage an audience
  15. Movie Clips – Nothing gets the blood pumping like a movie scene
  16. Documentary Clips – Sometimes it is more memorable for an audience if they see someone else say it instead of you.
  17. Song Clips – I usually try to stay below a minute and either use the songs as openers or lyric videos, but they add flavor. Like playing the Indiana Jones song before I show archaeology.
  18. Sound bites – I use little sound bites, like impacts (duh duh duh) and catch phrases for emphasis, transition and comedy.