Auguste Toulmouche was born in Nantes on Sept. 21, 1829. He was a painter of genre subjects and was a pupil of Gleyre. He began his career as a painter of portraits and historical objects, moving on to specialize in interiors, particularly intimate scenes with elegantly dressed Parisiennes. The artist first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1848 and was awarded many medals in subsequent exhibitions, including the Exposition Universelle of 1878. He was further honoured with the Legion d’Honneur in 1870. His “Chateau de Cartes” appeared at the important Exposition Universelle of 1900.
Toulmouche’s place in French art history is secured by his important influence on the early career of Claude Monet, to whom he was related by marriage. Not only did Toulmouche play a key role in persuading the young Monet to enter Gleyre’s studio at the end of 1862, he served as his artistic advisor if not mentor during the early Paris years of the great impressionist’s career, no doubt suggesting elegant female subjects in their hours of leisure.
Indeed it can be said that Toulmouche enjoyed considerable popularity during his own lifetime. No less than his better-known contemporaries Tissot and Stevens, with whom he was often compared. Toulmouche was a master of contemporary fashion and fabric, delighting in the rich assortment of colours and textures afforded by the haute couture of his day.
Many of Toulmouche’s works were engraved, as they were in several important collections at the end of the nineteenth century, including those of William Astor and Samuel Hawk. William H. Vanderbilt owned Toulmouche’s “The Adieu” (1871) and “Dans la Bibliotheque”. Paintings by the artist are to be found in the collections of major museums, inlcuding the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (which owns “Hommage a la Beaute”), The Boston Museum of Fine Arts (“The Reading Lesson” 1865 and the Hermitage, St Petersburg (“Young Girl with a Book” 1857. He is also well represented in important regional museums in the U.S. (St. Louis, and the Clark in Williamstown, Mass.) and France (where he was born).
Works by Toulmouche include, Curl Papers, 1849, Joseph and Potiphars Wife, A Girl, 1852, After Breakfast, 1853, Princess Mathilde, First Step, 1853, Empress Eugenie, The Lesson, 1855, Nantes Mueseam, The Terrace, 1855, A Kiss, 1857, Prayer, A Lesson, Card-House, 1859, First Chargrin, Sleep, Watch, Letter, 1861, A Snub, At Rest, The Hearth, 1863, Confidence, The Day after the Ball, 1864, Forbidden Fruit, 1865, Sir Richard Wallace, London, First Visit, 1865, A Marriage For Convenience, 1866, E.Mathews, White Lilacs, Waiting, 1867, Last Glimpse, A Festival, 1868, Love-letter, Morning Toilet, 1869, The Appointed Time, Woman Reading, 1870, Winter, 1873, Serious Book, The Reply, 1874, Flirtation, Summer, 1876, The Rose, 1878, The Letter, In the Grasp, 1883, Tete-a-Tete, 1884.