Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Toulouse-Lautrec and Lucién Metivet drinking absinthe c.1885 Photograph © Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi-Tarn, France

Toulouse-Lautrec and Lucién Metivet drinking absinthe c.1885. Photograph© Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi-Tarn, France

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was born on November 24, 1864 in Albi, France. I like his paintings but really knew nothing about the artist until I started research for this post. Cora Michael of the Metropolitan Museum of Art describes him as “an aristocratic, alcoholic dwarf known for his louche lifestyle.” He painted and document the nightlife of late 19th century Paris, particularly Montmartre’s seedy side. The film Moulin Rouge gives a fictionalized view of what the times were like when Toulouse-Lautrec lived and painted; you might recall the Toulouse-Lautrec character played by John Leguizamo in the film.

Cheval Blanc

Cheval Blanc Gazelle, 1881. ©Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, gift of Comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Toulouse-Lautrec was fond of painting horses. This is one of his early works painted in 1891.

Jane Avril, 1899. The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison Collection.

Jane Avril, 1899. ©The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison Collection.

One of my favorite posters is Jane Avril – I have a small copy hanging in my office.

At The Moulin Rouge

At The Moulin Rouge, circa 1892. ©Art Institute of Chicago.

Au Salon

Au Salon de la Rue Des Moulins, 1894.

Yvette Guibert

Yvette Guilbert Taking a Curtain Call, 1894. ©Musee Toulouse Lautrec

Divon Japonais

Divon Japonais, circa 1892. ©Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Clifford A. Furst.

Sadly, Toulouse-Lautrec’s alcoholism lead to his quick decline; he died in 1901 at 36 of complications from alcoholism and syphilis.

Additional Resources
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
National Gallery of Art’s Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre exhibit
Musee Toulouse-Lautrec
What Ailed Toulouse-Lautrec? Scientists Zero In on a Key Gene. New York Times article that reviews what disease Toulouse-Lautrec may have had that caused his dwarfism.


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