Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901) was a French painter, printmaker and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting and provocative images of the modern, and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec is known along with Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period. In a 2005 auction at Christie's auction house a new record was set when "La blanchisseuse", an early painting of a young laundress, sold for $22.4 million.
Toulouse-Lautrec was a direct descendant of an aristocratic family, born in 1864 at Albi, France. His wild and colourful father lived in moderate luxury, hunting with falcons and collecting exotic weapons. Henri began to draw at an early age and found the arts an escape from his loving but over-protective family.
In 1878 Toulouse-Lautrec suffered a fall and broke one femur. A year later he fell again and broke the other one – his legs didn’t heal properly. His torso developed normally, but his legs stopped growing and were permanently deformed.
|1889 La Blanchisseuse oil on canvas|
In England he visited celebrated writer Oscar Wilde and painter James McNeill Whistler. At one point Toulouse-Lautrec lived near painter Edgar Degas (1834–1917), whom he valued above all other contemporary artists and by whom he was influenced. From 1887 his studio was on the rue Caulaincourt next to the Goupil printshop, where he could see examples of the Japanese prints of which he was so fond.
By habit Toulouse-Lautrec stayed out most of the night. He frequented many entertainment spots in Montmartre, especially the Moulin Rouge. He moved freely among the dancers, the prostitutes, the artists, and the intellectuals of Montmartre. From 1890 on his tall, lean cousin, Dr. Tapié de Celeyran, accompanied him, and the two, depicted in "At the Moulin Rouge" (1892), made a colourful pair. Despite his deformity, Toulouse-Lautrec was extremely social and readily made friends.
|1892 At the Moulin Rouge oil on canvas|
Unusual types performing in a grand show attracted Toulouse-Lautrec. In his painting "In the Circus Fernando: The Ringmaster" (1888) the nearly grotesque, strangely cruel figure of the ringmaster is the center around which the horse and bareback rider must revolve. From 1892 to 1894 Toulouse-Lautrec produced a series of interiors of brothels, where he actually lived for a while and became the companion of the women.
|1888 At the Cirque Fernando, The Ringmaster oil on cnavas|
Eventually alcoholism and his loose lifestyle caught up with Toulouse-Lautrec and he suffered a breakdown in 1899. His mother had him committed to an asylum at Neuilly, France. He recovered and set to work again, but not for very long. He died in 1901 at the family estate at Malromé, France.
|1882 A Labourer at Celeyran|
|1882-3 Self-portrait oil on cardboard|
|1883 Comtesse Adèle-Zoé de Toulouse-Lautrec, the Artist's Mother oil on canvas|
|1886 Drawing Room at the Château de Malromé oil on canvas|
|1886 Jeanne Wenz|
|1889 Au Bal du Moulin de la Galette oil on canvas|
|1889-90 Training of the New Girls by Valentin "the Boneless" (Moulin-Rouge) oil on canvas|
|1889-90 Justine Dieuhl oil on board|
|1890 Désiré Dihau (Reading a Newspaper in the Garden) oil on cardboard|
|1890 The Policeman's Daughter oil on cardboard|
|1891 Louis Pascal oil on board|
|1891 Portrait of Honorine Platzer|
|1892 A Corner of the Moulin de la Galette|
|1892 At the Moulin Rouge, The Beginning of the Quadrille gouache on cardboard|
|1892 At the Moulin Rouge, Two Women Waltzing oil on cardboard|
|1892 Jane Avril Dancing oil on cardboard|
|1892 La Goulue Arriving at the Moulin Rouge with Two Women oil on cardboard|
|1892 Le Baiser oil on cardboard|