The Women of the Chariots
James Tissot, French, The Women of the Chariots, ca. 1883-1885, Oil on canvas; 146.1 x 100.7 cm (57 1/2 x 39 5/8 inches), Gift of Mr. Walter Lowry 58.186
In 1883, Tissot conceived a series of paintings on the subject of modern Parisian women. In The Women of the Chariots, he featured performers at the Hippodrome de l’Alma, a grand arena whose sliding roof could be opened to the sky. Known as Amazons, the charioteers wore costumes of shimmering scales. Their diadems resembled the crown on Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s new statue, Liberty Illuminating the World, completed in Paris in 1884 and soon to be installed in New York’s harbor. Like actresses, dancers, and models, the Amazons belonged to a social class known as the demi-monde, available women whose society enlivened Parisian nightlife.