Henry de Toulouse Lautrec Research

  1. Poster painter
  2. Was a midget
  3. French
  4. Incapacitated by the accident
  5. Influenced by Edgar Degas
  6. Simple lines and rounded shapes
  7. Influenced by his mother
  8. Studied the social life of Parisians Cafes
  9. Influenced by Art Nouveau
  10. Reduced palette of colours

How did the accidents that he had influenced Lautrec’s work?

If he didn’t have the accidents he would probably not have started painting.

We see the influence of the Art Nouveau style on the century’s best known poster designer. Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901). Born into an aristocratic family in the south of France, Lautrec suffered from a genetic disorder and childhood accidents that left him physically handicapped and short in height. Extremely gifted artistically, he moved to Paris in 1882 and had private academic training before discovering the work of Degas, which greatly influenced his own development. (…) the composition juxtaposes the dynamic figure of Avril dancing onstage at the upper left with the cropped image of a bass viol player and the scroll of his instrument at the lower right. The bold foreshortening of the stage and the prominent placement of the bass in the foreground background both suggest the influence of Degas who employed similar devices. Lautrec departs radically from Degas’s naturalism, however particularly in his imaginative extension of each end of the bass viol’s head into a curving frame that encapsulates Avril and connects her visually with her musical accomplishment.

Source: Art History, 3rd edition

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, in full Henri-Marie-Raymonde de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa  (born Nov. 24, 1864, Albi, France—died Sept. 9, 1901, Malromé), French artist who observed and documented with great psychological insight the personalities and facets of Parisian nightlife and the French world of entertainment in the 1890s. His use of free-flowing, expressive line, often becoming pure arabesque, resulted in highly rhythmical compositions (e.g., In the Circus Fernando: The Ringmaster, 1888). The extreme simplification in outline and movement and the use of large colour areas make his posters some of his most powerful works.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s family was wealthy and had a lineage that extended without interruption back to the time of Charlemagne. He grew up amid his family’s typically aristocratic love of sport and art. Most of the boy’s time was spent at the Château du Bosc, one of the family estates located near Albi. Henri’s grandfather, father, and uncle were all talented draftsmen, and thus it was hardly surprising that Henri began sketching at the age of 10. His interest in art grew as a result of his being incapacitated in 1878 by an accident in which he broke his left thighbone. His right thighbone was fractured a little more than a year later in a second mishap. These accidents, requiring extensive periods of convalescence and often painful treatments, left his legs atrophied and made walking most difficult. As a result, Toulouse-Lautrec devoted ever greater periods to art in order to pass away the frequently lonely hours.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s first visit to Paris occurred in 1872, when he enrolled in the Lycée Fontanes (now Lycée Condorcet). He gradually moved on to private tutors, and it was only after he had passed the baccalaureate examinations, in 1881, that he resolved to become an artist.

The originality of Toulouse-Lautrec also emerged in his posters. Rejecting the notion of high art, done in the traditional medium of oil on canvas, Toulouse-Lautrec in 1891 did his first poster, Moulin Rouge—La Goulue. This poster won Toulouse-Lautrec increasing fame. “My poster is pasted today on the walls of Paris,” the artist proudly declared. It was one of more than 30 he would create in the 10 years before his death. Posters afforded Toulouse-Lautrec the possibility of a widespread impact for his art, no longer restricted by the limitations of easel painting. They also enhanced the success he had enjoyed in the preceding year when his works were shown in Brussels at the Exposition des XX (the Twenty), an avant-garde association, and in Paris at the Salon des Indépendants.

Source: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/600695/Henri-de-Toulouse-Lautrec

Lautrec’s legs caused him much grief. He seems to have had a fairly healthy childhood, but by the time he was seven his mother had taken him to Lourdes, where she hoped to find a cure for some vaguely described limb problem. He was stiff and clumsy and prone to falls, and only went to school for one year, leaving when he proved too delicate for schoolyard roughhousing. By the age of 10 he was complaining of constant severe pains in his legs and thighs, and 13 minor falls caused fractures in both femurs which, to judge from the length of time during which he supported himself with canes, took about six months to heal. He would use a cane nearly all his adult life; indeed, friends believed that he walked any distance only with reluctance and difficulty.

As he grew, Lautrec also underwent some unusual facial changes. A pretty infant, and a handsome boy, he later developed a pendulous lower lip, a tendency to drool, and a speech impediment rather like a growling lisp, and his teeth rotted while he was still in his teens – traits which his parents, who were notably good-looking, did not share. He was self-conscious about his looks, wore a beard all his adult life, and never smiled for a camera.

Many critics have argued that it was a sort of physical self-loathing that caused him to seek and portray all that was most vicious and harsh in his milieu. But then, fin-de-siècle Paris could be a vicious and harsh place. One night at Maxim’s, when Lautrec had sketched some lightning caricatures of his neighbours, one of them called to him as he hobbled away. “Monsieur”, he said, gesturing to a pencil stub left on the table, “you have forgotten your cane.” On another occasion, looking at one of the many portraits he had done of her, Yvette Guilbert remarked, “Really, Lautrec, you are a genius of deformity.” He replied, “Why, of course I am.”


People always remember his posters, which are remarkable. But the more I looked into him, the clearer it became that his paintings are better at telling the truth. The posters were work, advertising. They were brilliant, sure, but they weren’t honest. For example, it was Lautrec who put the Moulin Rouge on the map with an astonishing poster that popped up overnight in Paris, in December 1893, of the wicked cancan dancer La Goulue — wicked because she sometimes “ forgot” to put on her underwear, and you know how much high-kicking there is in the cancan. The poster shows the crowd leaning in for a good look. Is she or isn’t she? It’s certainly a pioneering example of the use of sex to bring in the crowds. But what’s more interesting is how different Lautrec’s posters of the Moulin Rouge are from his paintings. There’s no sex or the promise of sex in the paintings. They’re entirely glum.

They show people leaving the cabaret at the end of the night, drunk, hollow-eyed. Dancers trudging home in the rain. Girls picking the pockets of their johns.

Where had he picked up his instinct for getting inside women’s heads? One of his favourite tricks was not showing a woman’s face. He’d paint her turned away, or with her hair over her forehead, so you couldn’t see her eyes. But instead of blocking you off from the women, the back views and the hair seemed to pull you towards them. You really want to know what they’re thinking.

It started to make sense back at the Château du Bosc. His mother, Adèle, was a religious nut who saw him as her punishment for marrying a first cousin. She doted on him in a guilty, suffocating way. The Château du Bosc was a woman’s world. While the men were out all day, huntin’, shootin’ and ridin’, the women stayed behind, sewing, thinking and waiting. The clock in the hall that they listened to is still there, and its doomy tick and tock could trigger domestic depression in a Tupperware container. Later, he would go in search of these anxious moods and sapping silences in the brothels of Montmartre. The slow agony of the feminine wait he would evoke so superbly in his brothel pictures, or those spectacularly sad paintings of fallen women staring into their absinthe, would have been noticed first at home.

Source: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article662158.ece

His career officially started when, at the age of 19, he moved into his own studio and received his first commission – to illustrate for Victor Hugo’s latest novel. After five years of academic training, he had become very good at doing what was expected. His own works, however, already showed a disregard for the rules. Although he never joined a formal school of artistic theory, he was clearly influenced by Edgar Degas, Honore Daumier, Jean-Louis Forain, and Japonisme. Perhaps his greatest influence came from the neighborhood his first studio was in: the infamous Montmartre district, bohemia-central for Paris. The combination of several scandalous nightclubs, low rents, and a reputation as a haven for the poor and marginalized attracted the young avant-garde sector of Parisian society, leading to further wildness and bohemian behavior. Toulouse-Lautrec and his artist-friends became particularly well-known for their exploits in the night clubs and galleries. Very quickly, Toulouse-Lautrec spiralled into hopeless alcoholism, leading to outrageous drunk behavior where his physical appearance and ever-present sketchbook made him very recognizable. As could be expected, his unrestrained lifestyle caused much conflict within his aristocratic family, generating many arguments over money and the use of the family name on Toulouse-Lautrec’s often-scandalous works.

Source: http://blogs.princeton.edu/writingart14/archives/2004/12/toulouselautrec_2.html







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