Auguste Toulmouche

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Biography of Auguste Toulmouche ( 1829-1890 )

Auguste Toulmouche was one of the most famous painters of the Second Empire. Born in Nantes in 1829, he arrived in Paris in 1846 and was a student of the painter Charles Gleyre. He exhibited at the Salon of Paris from 1848, receiving a third class medal in 1852, a second class medal in 1861, as well as a third class medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1878. He was nominated Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in 1870. 

In the 1850's, Auguste Toulmouche mostly painted genre scenes inspired by Antiquity and took part in the "neo-greek" movement created by Gérôme, Hamon and Picou, all of them students of Delaroche ("The Reading Lesson", exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1855). 

Following Hamon's work, childhood was one of Toulmouche’s favourite subjects. The innocence and the spontaneous curiosity of the children provided him with original themes to seduce or entertain the public, like in the paintings "La Terrasse" and "Le Baiser"(Dobrée Museum in Nantes). However, he rapidly left the neo-greek style to focus on more contemporary subjects ("Le Baiser maternel", Salon of 1857), more influenced by the neo-classicism of his teacher Gleyre. He was one of the first artists to paint scenes inspired by the bourgeoisie life of the Second Empire. 

Auguste Toulmouche was particularly devoted to genre scenes, high society life interiors and women portraits. He became very successful during the Second Empire, particularly with his paintings depicting young elegant women from the bourgeoisie and famous actresses like Réjane and Mme Caron. A cousin of Monet by marriage, he took care of the latter when he arrived in Paris and became his protector, helping him through his first artistic education. 

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