L'Ambitieuse (Political Woman)

James Tissot1883-1885

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, New York, United States

“L'Ambitieuse (Political Woman),” also referred to as “The Reception,” belongs to a series of fifteen large paintings that James Tissot executed between 1883 and 1885. The series, entitled “La femme à Paris,” contains some of his most trenchant observations and comments on late nineteenth-century Parisian society. The political arena inhabited by this painting’s subject is a social one. The visual narrative Tissot unfolds throughout the composition implies that this young woman aims to improve her own position by making herself a stylish and vital guest in the ballrooms and salons frequented by the French upper class. As described in an exhibition catalogue published by the Arthur Tooth Gallery in London, where this work was shown in 1886, the central figure’s pink dress, “ . . . is a marvel of the dressmaker’s art, with its multitude of tiny flounces, its black girdle, its pink sash, and the color of her pink ostrich feather fan has been carefully studied and matched.” At the time he created this work, Tissot had only recently returned to the city. In 1871, he fled the chaos of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune for London. With “La femme à Paris,” Tissot attempted to document what made the modern Parisian woman unique, while also proving that he was still attuned to the pulse and inner workings of this fashionable urban society.


  • Title: L'Ambitieuse (Political Woman)
  • Creator: James Tissot
  • Date Created: 1883-1885
  • Physical Dimensions: support: 56 x 40 inches (142.24 x 101.6 cm); framed: 73 1/2 x 56 x 5 inches (186.69 x 142.24 x 12.7 cm)
  • Contributor: Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of William M. Chase, 1909 (1909:10)
  • Rights: The copyright status of this artwork is believed to be held in public domain. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is mindful of its responsibilities concerning the intellectual property rights of others, and works to protect images of artworks that are believed to be under copyright or to have other restrictions imposed by contract or policy. While the museum makes every effort to accurately determine the rights status of artworks and images of those artworks, the information provided may not be up to date. Any statement on the public domain status of a work is made by the museum in good faith. If you have any information on the rights status of a work contrary to or in addition to the information listed here, or if you are the copyright owner and believe the AK has not properly attributed your work or has used it without your authorization, please contact the Albright-Knox Art Gallery at digitalassets@albrightknox.org.
  • External Link: More information about the artwork is available here.
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Image Information: Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
  • Artist's Nationality: French
  • Artist's Death Year: 1902
  • Artist's Birth Year: 1836

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