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Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec Background information Henri de Toulouse Lautrec was born November 24 1864 and grew up in Southwestern France. His dad was very eccentric (he once showed up in a tutu for lunch at his parents’ chateau), and was a notorious womanizer, who had little time for his wife or son. But Lautrec was doted on by his devoutly religious mother, and he would remain dependent on her—and resentful of her—for the rest of his brief life. His parents separated after the death of his younger brother and went to live with mom in Paris. He began sketching, drawing, and painting everyday scenes and took lessons from a family friend. His mom recognized his health problems when he was young and he returned to Albi, where he was born.

Toulouse Lautrec Syndrome Henri’s disability is known as pycnodysostosis, sometimes a symptom of inbreeding. It’s also sometimes known as the Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome. There were many other health factors that went into Henri’s disability that made him short. He developed a full torso, but very shortened legs, making him stand at 4 feet 11 inches. Physically he was unable to participate in many of the same activities as men his age, so he immersed himself in art.

Friends & Influences Emile Bernard The Harvest 1888

When Henri was in his 20’s he moved to Montmartre where he remained the rest of his short life. It was known for it’s Bohemian lifestyle of artists, philosophers, and writers. This is where he met his good friends Emile Bernard and Vincent Van Gogh. Both these artists had a deep influence on Toulouse Lautrec, both his independence and artwork. As well as many other impressionist artists like Edgar Degas and Renoir.

Edgar Degas L’etoile (La danseuse sur la scene) 1878

“I don’t belong to any school. I work in my corner. I admire Degas.” -Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Vincent Van Gogh Cafe Terrace at Night 1888

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette 1876

Montmartre - Paris - France From 1889 to 1894 he produced many landscapes of Montmartre for the ‘Independent Artists Salon.’ He studied under Cormon who believed that artists were drawn to street life and allowed his students to wander with their sketch pad in hand. When the Moulin Rouge cabaret opened, Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to produce a series of posters, which is what he is now most famous for. His posters became so popular that some Parisians were known to follow the workmen hanging them, so they could peel them off the walls before the glue dried. Other artists looked down on the work, but Henri was very aristocratic, he did not care.

-Style The style and content of Lautrec’s posters were also heavily influenced by Japanese prints. Areas of flat color bound by strong outlines, silhouettes, cropped compositions, and oblique angles are all typical of woodblock prints. Henri de Toulouse Lautrec often painted Moulin Rouge dancers Louise Weber and Jane Avril, and the combative singer/entrepreneur Aristide Bruant. His striking compositions and innovations in color lithography created a greater freedom and a new immediacy in poster design in the Post Impressionist era. I believe Toulouse Lautrec’s work was groundbreaking and opened up a world of possibilities for future artists and graphic designers. His stark contrast of diluted primary colors is very successful that many people still refer to. His typographic font portrays the time period well in that it is fun, gaudy, and pretty. The unity of his type and images is something that young artists recognize to this day.

La Troupe De Mlle Eglantine 1896

Jane Avril Iii

Jane Avril Ii

Posters & Paintings Henri de Toulouse Lautrec was a major influence on the Post-Impressionist period. Throughout his career, which spanned less than 20 years, Toulouse-Lautrec created 737 canvases, 275 watercolours, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings, some ceramic and stained glass work, and an unknown number of lost works. He captured people in their working environment, with the color and style of a gaudy nightlife. Many critics say his treatment of the subject matter and people is dispassionate because of stark contour lines. He emphasized silhouettes and color and was not ashamed of people’s ‘flaws.’ He once quote “I have tried to draw realistically and not ideally,” Lautrec wrote the friend. “It may be a defect, for I have no mercy on warts, and I like to adorn them with stray hairs, to make them bigger than life and shiny.”

La Chaine Simpson 1896

Moulin Rouge La Goulue


Divan Japonais


At the Moulin Rouge

The Dancer in Her Dressing Room

Marcelle Lender Doing The Bolero In Chilperic

Seated Dancer in Pink Tights

While Lautrec didn’t produce political or absurdist art, his unconventional realism, embrace of commercial art, eye for celebrity and increasingly abstract graphic designs positioned him among the most modern of artists.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

His life was romanticized in John Huston’s 1952 film Moulin Rouge, with José Ferrer as Lautrec, and laid bare in Julia Frey’s 1994 biography, Toulouse Lautrec: A Life. His world and his wild palette were evoked again in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film, also titled Moulin Rouge.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec Lautrec was mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, which led him to drown his sorrows in alcohol. An alcoholic for most of his adult life, he was placed in an asylum shortly before his death in 1901. Henri de Toulouse Lautrec died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis at the family estate in Malromé at the age of 36. After Toulouse Lautrec’s death, his mother, and his art dealer, promoted his art. His mother contributed funds for a museum to be created in Albi, his birthplace, to house his works. The Toulouse Lautrec Museum owns the world’s largest collection of works by the painter.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec  

Biography about the historically famous French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec  

Biography about the historically famous French artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.