Friday, November 24, 2017

Born on this day in 1864. Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec

November 24, 1864. Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (24 November 1864 - 9 September 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an oeuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times.

Toulouse-Lautrec's parents, the Comte and Comtesse, were first cousins (his grandmothers were sisters), and he suffered from congenital health conditions sometimes attributed to a family history of inbreeding.

At age 13, Toulouse-Lautrec fractured his right femur. At age 14, he fractured his left. The breaks did not heal properly. Modern physicians attribute this to an unknown genetic disorder, possibly pycnodysostosis (sometimes known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome), or a variant disorder along the lines of osteopetrosis, achondroplasia, or osteogenesis imperfecta.  Rickets aggravated by praecox virilism has also been suggested. Afterwards, his legs ceased to grow, so that as an adult he was extremely short (1.42 m or 4 ft 8 in).  He developed an adult-sized torso, while retaining his child-sized legs.  Additionally, he is reported to have had hypertrophied genitals.

Physically unable to participate in many activities enjoyed by males his age, Toulouse-Lautrec immersed himself in art. He became an important Post-Impressionist painter, art nouveau illustrator, and lithographer, and, through his works, recorded many details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris. Toulouse-Lautrec contributed a number of illustrations to the magazine Le Rire during the mid-1890s.

In his less-than-20-year career, Toulouse-Lautrec created:

737 canvased paintings
275 watercolours
363 prints and posters
5,084 drawings
some ceramic and stained glass work
an unknown number of lost works

His debt to the Impressionists, particularly the more figurative painters like Manet and Degas, is apparent, for within his works, one can draw parallels to the detached barmaid at A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Manet and the behind-the-scenes ballet dancers of Degas. His style was also influenced by the classical Japanese woodprints which became popular in art circles in Paris.

He excelled at depicting people in their working environments, with the colour and movement of the gaudy nightlife present but the glamour stripped away. He was a master at painting crowd scenes where each figure was highly individualized.

More at:

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History:

Other links:
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at the Museum of Modern Art
Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre at the National Gallery of Art
Toulouse-Lautrec and Paris exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – Artcyclopedia

Images from Wikipedia

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I have always loved his work. Sadly, I think he is more remembered for Toulouse-Latrec Syndrome. It's rare today but still occurs. What a prolific but, I feel, underrated artist.