Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An Afternoon Idyll (1874)

Auguste Toulmouche: An Afternoon Idyll

Auguste Toulmouche enjoyed notable success during the Second Empire with his paintings of attractive and lusciously decorated bourgeois interiors and elegantly dressed ladies. He was a student of Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre and debuted at the Salon in 1848. His entry into the Salon of 1852 won him a third class medal, followed by a second class medal in 1861 and another third class medal for his entry into the 1878 Exposition Universelle (the first class medal at this event was awarded to William Bouguereau's La Charité). Toulmouche was appointed Chavalier de la Lègion d'honneur in 1870.

The fashionable gowns decorated with large satin ribbons, ruffled lace sleeves and multiple petticoats demonstrate the absolute height of fashion in France during the mid 1870s. … Painstaking detail has been put into the modeling of these fantastic gowns as well as their luscious fabrics and bright colors. In fact the color pink was a rather recently developed artificial dye at the time, and along with other newly invented luxuries of this period it suggests opulent consumption, an emblem of an era which is popularly called La Belle Epoque.

During a time of such riches, luscious consumption was not only satisfied through fashionable gowns and exquisite lace but also through the acquisition of antiques and rare objects imported from foreign lands. The vogue for japonisme peaked during the Second Empire and Oriental screens, blue and white porcelain, and even kimonos were being assimilated by artists across Europe, from James McNeil Whistler to Jean-Jacques Tissot and Edouard Vuillard. The use of a Japanese screen in Tissot's 1869 Salon entry titled Young Ladies admiring Japanese Objects would have been viewed as both exotic as well as sumptuous. In An Afternoon Idyll, Toulmouche introduces a similar element with the use of the screen, in order to complete and compliment this very extravagant composition. [Christie’s]

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