Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter and printmaker best known for documenting life at the Moulin Rouge. Due to health conditions that stunted the artist’s growth, he often felt out of place in mainstream society. He thrived in the artist circles of Montmartre in Paris and befriended many of the singers and dancers. Rather than painting scenes from his aristocratic childhood, Toulouse-Lautrec drew his inspiration from other “outcasts” who worked as performers at café concerts, cabarets or the circus. Toulouse-Lautrec was also interested in the lives of the working poor and often drew women resting after a hard day’s work.
Jane Avril, 1899. Lithograph. 56 x 38.1 cm, Museum of Modern Art New York
Toulouse-Lautrec was born in the village of Albi, in the south of France. The artist moved to Paris at a young age where he became interested in drawing and studied under the tutelage of known painters who also resided in the bohemian area of Montmartre.
Moulin Rouge: La Goulue, 1891. Multi-color lithograph. 189.99 x 116.51 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art New York.
Artiste Bruant- Eldorado.1892. Lithograph. 53 ½ x 37 in
“Misia Nathanson” La Revue Blanche (literary magazine illustration), 1895. Lithograph. 50 x 37 in
Toulouse-Lautrec received frequent commissions to design posters, which were often produced as lithographs. The artist created his own graphic style, influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Toulouse-Lautrec was a major figure in Paris’s 19th century art scene known as the Belle Epoque. In addition to his iconic posters, he produced hundreds of masterful paintings, drawings, book and magazine illustrations, and fine art editions of etchings and lithographs.
The Seated Clowness, published in Elles, 1896. Lithograph. 52.5 x 40.2 cm
Unfortunately Toulouse-Lautrec’s life was cut short due to his excessive drinking habits. Despite his early death, Toulouse-Lautrec’s legacy has lived on. His paintings and prints have inspired generations of artists to come. Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithographs are highly regarded as some of the most influential prints of the 19th century.