Reading Lesson

Auguste Toulmouche (French, 1829–1890)


36.5 x 27.6 cm (14 3/8 x 10 7/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

Not On View





In an elegant interior, a young mother gives her daughter a reading lesson. Though a voluminous skirt and a jacket lined with swan’s down identify her as a fashionable lady of the Second Empire, the woman seems to take even more pains with her daughter’s education than with her own appearance. Described as a “poet and historian of fashion” by his contemporaries, Toulmouche captured not only the attire of the modern parisienne but also the bourgeois domestic values of his era.


Lower left, on music rack: A. T O U L M O U C H E. 1865


June 26, 1865, acquired by Goupil et Cie., Paris (stock no. 1716); November 7, 1865, traded by Goupil with Prince Luigi Carlo Maria Giuseppe, Count of Aquila (b. 1824 - d. 1897), Paris. March 3, 1867, sold by J. Hollender, Brussels, to Goupil et Cie., Paris (stock no. 3282); March 7, 1868, sold by Goupil to M. Knoedler and Co., New York [see note 1]. Noyes and Blakeslee, Boston [see note 2]. 1924, gift of Francis Apthorp Foster (b. 1872 - d. 1966), Cambridge, MA to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 3, 1924)

[1] Getty Provenance Index, Goupil et Cie. records, PI Record Nos. G-1707 (stock book 2, no. 1716, p. 179), G-16105 (stock book 4, no. 3282, p. 53), and G-4251 (stock book 3, no. 3282, p. 186).
[2] According to notes in the curatorial file, there is a Noyes and Blakeslee label on the reverse of the painting's stretcher.

Credit Line

Gift of Francis A. Foster