Portrait of Madame Marie Toulmouche

Madame Marie Toulmouche


Daughter of a Nantes magistrate, Marie Lecadre seems to have been a model of beauty and intelligence. She married the painter Toulmouche and during their stays at Blanche-Couronne Abbey, their property in the Nantes countryside – visible in the background of the painting – she was the driving force for a coterie of friends including the painters Gustave Doré, Puvis de Chavannes, Eugène Picou and Jules-Elie Delaunay himself, as well as the poet José-Maria de Heredia.

The group discussed art and literature and Madame Toulmouche sang and played music. Shown at the Salon in Paris in 1885 and in Na ntes the following year, this portrait drew enthusiastic reactions and was considered one of the artist's masterpieces.

Portrait of Madame Marie Toulmouche

Un tableau d'une rare modernité

There were references to "the elusive verdancy of the rural backdrop", the deeply musical harmony between the model in summer garb and "the subdued colouring of the landscape", the firm drawing of the face, and "most of all the eyes, blue-grey, with an extraordinarily lively intensity, eyes which light up the entire countenance and seem to state the key for the symphony that is the picture" (André Michel, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1885, vol. II, p. 16).

Here Delaunay uses a deliberately lightened palette for the first time, combining it with a simultaneous firmness and lightness of touch that gives the work a modernity rare in his oeuvre.

Portrait of Madame Marie Toulmouche
Oil on canvas
90 x 74 cm
Inscribed/signed B.R: J.E.D. à Madame Mie Toulmouche 1884
Acquired 1918
Inv. 918.1.1. P