Who was Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker and draftsman, he was one of the artists who best represented the Parisian nightlife of the late 19th century.

Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Albi on November 24, 1864, into one of the most important aristocratic families in France. As a teenager, he broke both legs and, due to a congenital disease that caused him to lack calcium, for the rest of his life he kept a normal torso but his legs did not grow.

At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance (1890)
Description:  Oil on canvas. 115 x 150 cm.
Location:  Philadelphia Museum of Art

His ability to draw was initially encouraged by his uncle, Count Charles de Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as René Princeteau and John Lewis Brown, amateur artists friends of the family. Later he studied painting with the French scholars Joseph Florentin Leon Bonnat and Fernand Cormon.

Toulouse-Lautrec frequented the colorful and lively cabarets of the Paris district of Montmartre, such as the Moulin Rouge, and attracted a large group of artists and intellectuals with his wit and loquacity, including the Irish writer Oscar Wilde, the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the French singer Yvette Guilbert.

Moulin Rouge: La Goulue (1891)
Description:  Poster.
Location:  Private Collection

He also regularly visited the theater, circus and brothels. The memories and impressions that he drew from these places and from their most prominent characters were captured with great skill in portraits and sketches of surprising strength and originality.

Characteristic examples are La Goulue entering the Moulin Rouge (1892, Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Albi), Jane Avril entering the Moulin Rouge (1892, Courtland Gallery, London) and In the hall of the rue des Moulins (1894, Toulouse Museum -Lautrec).

La Goulue entering the Moulin Rouge (1892)
Description:  Oil on canvas. 79.4 x 59 cm.
Location:  MOMA. NY

His disorderly life, his alcoholism and an attack of paralysis led him to abandon his study to take refuge with his mother in the castle of Malromé, property of the family, where on November 9, 1901 he died.

Toulouse-Lautrec was a very prolific artist. He made a large number of oil paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographs, and posters, as well as illustrations for various newspapers of the time. Many of his works are kept in the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi.

Salon de la Rue des Moulins (1894)
Description:  Oil on canvas. 111 x 132 cm.
Location:  Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. Albi

In his peculiar and personal style he incorporated elements of other artists of the time, especially the French painters Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin. Japanese art, in vogue in Paris in those years, also exerted its influence in Toulouse-Lautrec, with its strongly marked contours, its asymmetrical composition and the use of spot-colored spots. His work inspired Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Georges Rouault and all those artists interested in the work of lithographs and posters.


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