From the Latin Vulgate
with Illustrations by James Tissot, 1899

James Tissot continues the scriptural account of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, ending with His death on the cross. Drawing from the Four Gospels in the Latin Vulgate, Tissot provides the Sacred Art and historical commentaries that accompany the infallible Word of God. His unique insight comes from over ten years of research in the Holy Land, spent walking in the footsteps of Jesus. This is a remarkable book that truly captures the sufferings of Our Lord, endured for love of us.

What follows are Tissot's own words as to why he painted the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why I Painted the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ
by James Tissot
I wanted to know the truth--to see Jesus of Nazareth as He walked and talked in His native haunts. And then to give back to the millions of my fellow-Christians this real conception of the Founder of the Faith. If I spent ten years in the Holy Land, treading in the very footsteps of the Saviour, it was only that I myself might better realize all that He was, all that He did, before I give it to the world. Day by day, hour by hour, the facts grew dearer to me. I was moved by the consciousness that I was looking at the same rocks, the same trees that had been reflected in the eyes of the Saviour, and as I walked along those paths in which He must have trod, I could not always restrain the tears.

I had studied the Gospels until I knew them by heart, and had located as nearly as I might every act of that Divine One who came on earth to save mankind. It was necessary for me to restore the Temple of Jerusalem in order that I might place the Child Jesus there. To do this properly, I had to study the Talmud of the Jews, as well as the Old Testament, and examine the ruins of the ancient building found beneath modern Jerusalem. To understand the life of Jesus, it is requisite to grasp the civilization of the Jews of this time. All of this I have tried to put into my pictures. Over and over again I visited each sanctified spot. I wandered along the banks of the Jordan and saw the spot where John had baptized his Master. I walked around the shores of Lake Tiberius seeking those rocks from which tradition said, Christ had preached. I saw the spot where Peter's boat had been moored, and at last understood Why He had "gone up into the boat to preach," for the shore was so level that there was no other elevation from which Jesus could have spoken.

I have grouped my pictures in several sections, devoted to the "Holy Childhood," the "Ministry," "Holy Week," the "Passion" and the "Resurrection," to avoid all confusion and present the career of Jesus on earth in its natural order. My desire was to make Him live again before the eyes of all men in order that Christians might understand Him better and worship Him more truly. So that the greatest possible number of persons might see and even own the pictures, I have had them reproduced in book form.

I have found it necessary to put aside all of the pictures of Jesus painted by the great artists of various ages, not because they were not great paintings, but because they were not the Christ. It is impossible to go back 1900 years in the West and try to reproduce the life of that distant period with accuracy; but in the Orient, where customs change slowly, where progress has been almost entirely unknown, it was not impossible, having before me the descendants of the very people among whom Christ had lived, to paint the pictures of their ancestors.

There is not a stroke in my pictures, nor a color, which is not based upon good reasons. If I have painted Jesus in a flowing robe of white, it is because He could have worn no other color, and the all-enveloping garb, tradition states, was necessary if the Christ was to avoid creating the sensation which His shining body would have brought about.

I have begun at the very beginning of that marvelous history, when it was revealed to the parents of John the Baptist that he was to be the forerunner of the Messiah.

Jesus has been kept too far away from the minds and hearts of men. If by my pen and pencil I have made Him more real to the millions who worship Him from afar, I have accomplished my purpose.

The very thing which every Christian most desires--to know all he can about Jesus and His life--has been denied him heretofore. If all men could only know how great was the sorrow and suffering of the "Son of God," devotion to Christianity would be universal instead of partial.

It is in the hope that I, perhaps, may be the humble instrument to accomplish something of this work that I have sent my pictures, my life of Jesus, into the world.

(An Indulgence of 7 years to the faithful who for at least a quarter of an hour read the Books of of Sacred Scripture as a spiritual reading with the respect that is do the Word of God.)

To download the entire book, click on the link below.

Download the book, "The Life of Our Saviour Jesus Christ"