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Jean-Marie Toulgouat: Gardening Giverny

Born in Giverny in 1927, Jean-Marie Toulgouat grew up surrounded by Impressionist masterpieces and beautiful gardens. The great-grandson of Claude Monet (by marriage), he returned to Giverny in the 1960s, and was closely involved in the restoration of Monet’s gardens. He created his own distinctive oeuvre of vibrantly coloured oil paintings of the gardens at Giverny, capturing his personal relationship with the land.

Alongside Toulgouat’s paintings, the exhibition will feature archival photographs of the gardens in Toulgouat’s time by legendary garden photographer Andrew Lawson, and immersive elements bringing Giverny to life in London. Gardening Giverny will trace the development of the famous gardens under Monet, the building of the water garden, and its later restoration.

The works in this exhibition are available for purchase in aid of the Garden Museum’s educational and community programmes.


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Presented in collaboration with David Messum Fine Art

Pres de l’Orangerie à Manotte, 1989; Dahlias Etoile, 2004, Jean-Marie Toulgouat. Courtesy David Messum Fine Art. Photos: Monet's Garden, Giverny (c) Andrew Lawson

Jean-Marie Toulgouat and Giverny

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 1964, he returned to painting, selling the only original work by Monet that he possessed. Accompanied by his wife, the late art historian and writer Claire Joyes, he returned to Giverny and the house where he had grown up. There, he embraced the life of a painter and embarked on 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.

Le Grande Allée, Giverny, 1999, Jean-Marie Toulgouat. Courtesy David Messum Fine Art

The exhibition is held in conjunction with an exhibition of newly discovered works by Jean-Marie Toulgouat, running 6 March – 4 April 2024 at David Messum Fine Art, who represent the Artist’s Estate.

The works in this exhibition are available for purchase in aid of the Garden Museum’s educational and community programmes.

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