Vanity is an 1870 genre painting by French artist Auguste Toulmouche who specialized in painting luxurious paintings of Paris’s upper class.
Here we see a young wealthy young woman wrapped up in a moment of self-adoration as a modern female Narcissus kisses her reflection. Toulmouche primarily painted high-society portraits but, in this instance, he painted a moralistic piece.
Auguste Toulmouche’s version of extreme Realism in his genre paintings proved extremely popular in America and Europe, with one of his works being bought by Emperor Napoleon III.
The fine realistic details and a sumptuous interior, when seen in combination with the fact that the artist around this time joined in the military defense against the Prussian invasion, are a bitter counterpoint. Perhaps they reveal a negative social commentary on a blinkered upper-class Parisian society.
Auguste Toulmouche’s Vanity is in a private collection.