Toulmouche received his early training from his uncle and Amedeo Rene Menard, both sculptors in the port city of Nantes, France. He received additional training from the portraitist Biron who taught in Nantes. At the age of seventeen he left for Paris and studied under the Swiss painter Charles Gleyre. This provided the direction he needed and in 1848 he was ready for his Salon debut. In 1852 Emperor Napoleon III purchased one of Toulmouche’s paintings—“La Fille”. A year later Empress Eugenie purchased his painting entitled “The First Step”. With his reputation assured, he continued to paint charming domestic scenes—mothers and children and young women.
Toulmouche was expert at “costume painting”, where great attention was paid not only to the depiction of homely scenes of beautiful women and children, but also the fashions of the day including the details of dress and accessories. These details of fabric—its colors and textures, became integral parts of his pictorial story. Toulmouche received the honor of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. He exhibited widely and was awarded many medals. His works were admired in the United States and some of his paintings are held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.