Jean-Marie Toulgouat Exhibition Garden Museum

This spring the Garden Museum will present “Gardening Giverny” paintings of Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny by Jean-Marie Toulgouat, Monet’s great-grandson.

credit: Garden Museum

Gardening Giverny traces the development of the famous gardens under Monet, the building of the water garden, and its later restoration under the guidance of Monet’s great-grandson, Jean-Marie Toulgouat.

Born in Giverny, Normandy in 1928, Toulgouat grew up surrounded by Impressionist masterpieces and beautiful gardens. In Monet’s old house and studio the young Toulgouat, who was also the grandson of American painter Theodore Butler, played alongside Monet’s own remarkable art collection featuring works by Pissarro, Manet, Cezanne, and Renoir.

Toulgouat created his own distinctive oeuvre of vibrantly coloured oil paintings of the gardens at Giverny, capturing his personal relationship with the land. The paintings in this exhibition, produced in the last decades of his life, possess the spirit of impressionism, but are more modern in their idiom than Monet’s: a subtle mix of bold and pastel colours in a restricted but carefully selected palette, whether painting in oils, gouache or watercolour.

Initially resisting painting, Toulgouat left Giverny in 1947 to train as an architect. For sixteen years, he practiced as a landscape architect in Paris, where he designed municipal parks and gardens. In the 1960s, accompanied by his wife the late art historian and writer Claire Joyes, he returned to Giverny. There, he embraced the life of a painter and embarked on assisting an ambitious project to safeguard the integrity of Monet’s last home and to restore Giverny to its former brilliance.

The task of planning and reconstructing the long-neglected gardens and studio was immense. Possessing an intimate knowledge of Monet’s home, Toulgouat’s recollections of growing up at Giverny in the 1930s were invaluable for their restoration. It is because of him that the walls in Monet’s studios were ‘returned to their true colours’, and the planting and borders in the garden were restored to Monet’s original design.

The exhibition held from the 13th of March – 24th of April 2024, will also feature archival photographs of the gardens by legendary garden photographer Andrew Lawson and a series of immersive elements bringing Giverny to life. The works in this exhibition are available for purchase in aid of the Garden Museum’s educational and community programmes.

The Garden Museum’s exhibition is held in conjunction with an exhibition of newly discovered works by Jean-Marie Toulgouat at the David Messum Fine Art who represent the Estate of Jean-Marie Toulgouat/the Artist’s Estate.