Auguste Toulmouche France
9-21-1829 Nantes, FRA – 10-16-1890 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Auguste Toulmouche left for Paris in 1846 at the age of 17. There he entered the independent studio of Charles Gleyre, the Swiss painter later known for his association with the Impressionists who also began their Paris training under his guidance. Gleyre’s atelier offered Toulmouche exactly what he needed—quiet guidance in the traditional French curriculum of learning to draw in front of classical plaster casts before learning to paint from live models. By 1848, he was ready for his Salon debut.
The year 1848, however, was less than auspicious for beginning a career in any field other than the military. For a scant four years, France was again a republic, only to revert to an empire when Napoleon III declared himself emperor in 1852. For Toulmouche, this turn of events proved fortunate. At the 1852 Salon, Auguste Toulmouche not only earned a third class medal, but his painting, La Fille, was acquired by the emperor himself. The following year, in 1853, Empress Eugénie was so pleased with Toulmouche’s rendering of a domestic genre scene, The First Step, that she too made a purchase.
With success at the Salon and imperial approval of his art, Auguste Toulmouche’s reputation was assured. He continued to specialize in depictions of charming domestic scenes of mothers and children or of young women in the throes of various romantic dilemmas. This type of image, sometimes referred to as Costume Painting, found a ready market with both middle class and upper class audiences, and continued to bring Toulmouche professional success and acclaim.
As a practitioner of Costume Painting, Toulmouche was one of a group of artists who adapted the emotional expressiveness found in earlier history painting to the depiction of romantic narratives based on everyday life. There is clearly a relationship to acting techniques in this imagery as well; Toulmouche’s figures express a range of sentiments through stylized gestures that would have been part of a standard theatrical repertoire.
Auguste Toulmouche’s role in the history of art was unexpectedly altered in 1862 when he married one of Claude Monet’s cousins just at the moment when Monet’s father was looking for someone to “supervise” his son’s art studies in Paris. Naturally, Toulmouche’s reputation as a successful Salon painter made him the logical choice. When Monet arrived in Paris in November 1862, Toulmouche directed him immediately to Gleyre’s studio, Monet began with a willing spirit, but soon chafed under Gleyre’s insistence that he paint in the idealized Academic style rather than attempt to capture the image as he actually saw it. Nonetheless, it was at Gleyre’s that Monet met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille, all of whom became his close companions. As for Toulmouche, no doubt he was glad to have placed his recalcitrant cousin where he could study art, while simultaneously keeping peace in the family.
Art Movement: Academic Realism
Influences: Charles Gleyre