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.


New York Public Library’s Digital Image Collection


Libraries are amazing resources – free books, free magazines, free databases, and sometimes, free images. Of course they’re not really free – tax dollars and other monies are used to purchase materials, but the end result is a wonderful world of materials one can access for free. Today’s post highlights the wonderful Digital Collection from the New York Public Library. I choose images from the 1900-1925 time frame, and chose a few that I liked. My favorite is the photograph of Lucille Lortel. What are your favorite image collections? Favorite library?


Le messager. [The messenger.] By Édouard Halouze, 1925. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.

Jewelry, Paris, France. René Beauclair. ca. 1901. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Image Collection.

Jewelry, Paris, France. René Beauclair. ca. 1901. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.

Color study, Georges de Feure,, 1901.

Color study, Georges de Feure, 1901. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.

Robe d'après-midi, de Doeuillet. L.E.(unknown) , 1921. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Image Collection.

Robe d’après-midi, de Doeuillet. L.E.(unknown) , 1921. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.

Portrait of Lucille Lortel , ca. 1920's, by Achille Volpe. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Image Collection.

Portrait of Lucille Lortel , ca. 1920’s, by Achille Volpe. Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery.

Renaissance Beauty – Titian’s La Bella

The Portland Art Museum is currently hosting La Bella, an Italian painting that was recently cleaned and conserved. This Renaissance beauty was painted in about 1536 by the Venetian artist Tiziano Vecelli (commonly referred to as “Titian”). The painting belongs to the Italian people, and is part of the Palazzo Pitti’s permanent collection. The Palazzo Pitti is in Florence, and has a long history of powerful inhabitants and owners – the Medici, Napolean, and King Victor Emmanuel III, who donated the palace and its contents to the Italian people in 1919.

The museum has La Bella in her own little gallery, with attractive lighting, a bench to sit on, and lots of information written about it on the back wall. I was surprised at how small the painting is – 890 x 750 mm. I don’t know why I expected a life sized painting. The first photo below gives you an idea of the small size of the painting and the interesting way it was displayed here in Portland. The next two photos below show the difference in the colors before and after its restoration.

Titian exhibit at Portland Art Museum: one painting!

View into gallery with La Bella. ©2011 Todd Mecklem

La Bella, after conservation. Photo courtesy of Palazzo Pitti.

Before conservation. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY Source: Grove Art Online

I was fascinated by looking up close at the detailed brush strokes.The gold necklace links and the sumptuous embroidery were amazing. Titian captured La Bella’s gaze beautifully, with direct eye contact and a sense of mystery.

Close up. Photo courtesy Nevada Art Museum

Titian’s masterpiece will be at the Portland Art Museum through January 29, 2012. For more information, I liked Bob Hick’s article in the Oregonian and a brief history of the painting on the Kimbell Art Museum’s website. I also used my Multnomah County Library card to access Oxford Art Online, which has a much more scholarly discussion of the painting.

Surrealism: Man Ray

A creator needs only one enthusiast to justify him. Man Ray

Image from Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Surrealists have piqued my interest since I saw my first Luis Buñuel film, Un chien andalou. The weird (and sometimes disturbing) images and the lack of plot create a very interesting short film. I’ve also always liked Salvador Dalí’s paintings and Man Ray’s photography and drawings The Centre Pompidou describes Surreralism:

The Surrealist group was formed in the spirit of revolt which characterised the European avant-garde of the 1920s. Just like the Dada movement, in which some of them had participated, these poets and artists denounced the rationalist arrogance of the late 19th century which had been halted in its tracks by the First World War.  However, perceiving Dadaism’s incapacity to build new positive values, the Surrealists broke away from it to proclaim the official existence of their own movement in 1924. Dominated by the personality of André  Breton, Surrealism was at first essentially a literary movement. Surrealism introduced the theory of the liberation of desire through the invention of techniques that aimed to reproduce the mechanisms of dreams.

Man Ray was born in Philadelphia in 1890, spent time in New York City, and moved to Paris in 1921. He was an experimental photographer but also a poet, painter, and documentarian of the Dada and Surrealist artists.

Tears (Les Larmes), 1932 This is one of my favorite images from Man Ray. We saw an exhibition in Paris a couple of years ago with some of his work – it was one of my favorite art exhibits ever.

Image from Smithsonian American Art Museum

Kiki (Alice Prin), circa 1925– Kiki de Montparnasse was an artist’s model and Man Ray’s partner in the 1920s.

Image from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Nancy Cunard, circa 1926– I love her collection of bangles, probably Bakelite and celluloid.

Image from Art Institute of Chicago. © 2008 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society.

Huile– I’d love to have this in my kitchen!

Image from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Man Ray is buried in Paris at the Cimetière de Montparnasse. His headstone says “Unconcerned but Not Indifferent.” We saw his grave on one of our cemetery walks.

For more images, check out the Man Ray Trust. (Many of the links are dead but the image bank appears pretty robust.) For more on his photographic methods, see Atget Photography.