Nov 22, 2022
Nov 22, 2022

Two Figures at a Door (The Proposal?)

Two Figures at a Door (The Proposal?)


James Tissot

(French, 1836–1902)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 101 x 61.5 cm (39 3/4 x 24 3/16 in.)

Partial gift from Ralph and Terry Kovel and Family, and partial purchase from the John L. Severance Fund 2022.140

Did you know?

Tissot was close friends with Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, and Berthe Morisot, but declined Degas’s invitation to participate in the first Impressionist exhibition of 1874.


Born and trained in France, Tissot spent eleven years working in London (1871–82). He painted this view of two figures at door a pivotal moment when he was trying to establish himself in the British art world by focusing on subjects that would appeal to the Victorian taste for storytelling subjects. The scene apparently depicts a couple just after the man has proposed marriage and is waiting for a reply. The door may have a symbolic meaning: will she let him cross the “threshold” into her life, or leave him waiting outside? During this moment of suspense, attention is drawn to the sumptuous dress, the intense natural light, and the artist’s fascination with the sophisticated fashions of the new, urban, middle-class.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.