The Blind and Mute Man Possessed by Devils


James Tissot, The Blind and Mute Man Possessed by Devils, 1886-1896. Gouache over graphite, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn.

Toward the end of Tissot’s career he had a renewed interest in the Catholic faith of his childhood. He started a series of religious paintings, visiting the Middle East several times to make studies and paint backgrounds for his works. In the end he produced a set of more than 350 paintings showing scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. They were published as two volumes of parallel Latin (Vulgate) and French/English quotations from the Gospels, together with reproductions of his paintings and drawings.

He worked on this series, published in English —The Life of our Savior—from 1886 to 1896. His introduction to the published work indicates that he felt his travel sketches and his readings of ancient and modern works gave him all the information he needed to  “remove the thin layer of modernism” and paint the true people of ancient Judea by intuition.

This painting from volume two illustrates a story from Matthew of a man possessed by demons whom Jesus is about to exorcise.