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In the Library | 1872 | Auguste Toulmouche

In the Library | 1872 | Auguste Toulmouche

In the Library | 1872 | Auguste Toulmouche

 In the Library | 1872 | Auguste Toulmouche | Privately owned

In the Library | 1872 | Auguste Toulmouche | Privately owned

Happy Museum Monday! It has been a LONG time since I've done a Books in Art post...November 4th, in fact! I'm hoping to do these more often. Once a week? Ideally. One a month? More likely... But if there is anything I love as much as reading, it is visiting museums, looking at art, and learning about history. So I hope you'll take some time to appreciate these works along with me.

About the Artist:

Auguste Toulmouche was a French painter, born in 1829. Not much is known about his early life, but he moved to Paris at the age of 17 and within a few years exhibited at the Paris Salon and received an honorable mention and later a third class metal. He also caught the eye of royalty, with paintings acquired by both Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. Within seven years, at the age of 24, he had secured quite the reputation for his domestic scenes depicting women, particularly mothers, children, and young ladies. I wasn't surprised to find out that he had strong ties to Claude Monet (one of my favorite artists) - he married Monet's cousin and worked for Monet's father to oversee Claude's artistic studies in Paris. Toulmouche died suddenly following a fainting spell in 1890 at the age of 61.

About the painting:

In the Library or Dans la Bibliotheque is an oil on canvas completed in 1872. It is privately owned. I couldn't find a ton of information about the painting itself (Who is the subject? Where was it painted? Who owns it? SO many questions!) If you're an art historian and have some of these answers...please contact me! Personally, I love how the woman is posed...holding her train up and out of her way. She appears quite casual with this stance, as if she is comfortable in her surroundings and quite alone - she doesn't expect anyone to join her in this room. The pile of books suggests she might be looking for something - a quote that popped into her head? a favorite passage?  She seems quite engrossed in this fourth book whereas the others have been cast aside - so I'd like to assume she found what she was looking for.

About 1870s fashion:

Dress 1: House of Worth | ca. 1872 | French

Dress 2: Mon. Vignon | ca. 1872 | French

Dress 3: House of Worth | ca. 1875 | French

For this post I chose to focus on the back of these 1870s gowns. The painting so beautifully illustrates the back of the woman's dress as she peruses the options in her library, but because she is holding up the skirt of her gown we don't get to see what the dress would look like quite clearly, thus I thought it would be fun to focus entirely on the variety of skirts during this time period - what is similar about these gowns and the variations on the common style. Excess was key during the 1970s: lace, ruffles, bows...the more frills the better. You see some examples of this in the back of these three gowns but also in Toulmouche's painting: the white ruffles at the hem of her underskirt, the excess in fabric illustrated by the many folds, the bow at her back, the ruffles around the neckline and the double layer of ruffles at the sleeve.

Another distinguishing feature of this time was the bustle. Skirts became narrower at the hips and the bulk of the bustle was in the rear. This bulk was accentuated by the tight bodice and narrow waist with a flare at the hips. This bodice was known as the basque bodice which often featured bows and ruffles at the back.

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