James Tissot, Women of Paris: The Circus Lover, 1885
From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
Like the Impressionists, particularly his friend Edgar Degas, Tissot chose his subjects from modern urban life. His precise, detailed, and anecdotal style, however, was more closely related to conservative academic painting. This work belongs to a series called La Femme à Paris (Women of Paris), eighteen large paintings that depict women of different social classes encountered as if by chance at various occupations and amusements. Here, the woman engages the viewer as a participant in the action by her direct glance out of the picture. The event is a “high-life circus,” in which the amateur performers were members of the aristocracy.
That poor clown is all like, “Lady, why aren’t you looking?”