Archive for May 17, 2013

Artist of the moment…..Henri Toulouse- Lautrec…

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec was a fantastic French painter born in Albi, Tarn, France  in 1864. He is best renown for his work with posters he produced dealing with the theater and nightlife of Paris. In art history the time he flourished is known as the Post Impressionist period.  His parents separated before he was 10 years old and Lautrec went to live in Paris with his mother.

Due to his stature and weak bones, he had a genetic disorder affecting bone growth and density now called Toulouse- Lautrec syndrome, he didn’t do normal things like most peers his age such as dancing or playing sports. He loved art and kept himself immersed in this world as much as possible.

Was among the first highly successful poster and commercial artists. I like to think of posters and very cheap giclees, depending on quality. To say they are invaluable is ridiculous. Some other artists who sometimes too payment for poster jobs with 100 to 200 prints for themselves would be Rex Ray and Gary Bukovnik. Another artist profiled recently was the artist David Klein who was associated with the old TWA airline. Klein’s posters are the highest selling of all time at the major auction houses having broken the $10,000 barrier.

Record sale for a work by Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec is $22.4 million dollars.

Some great examples of posters by Toulouse- Lautrec.

A great collection of paintings set to music.

Lautrec already had money coming in from his wealthy family and their land holdings, but enjoyed the additional monies his commercial work brought him. He also illustrated in many magazines of the time including Elle Le Rire.

Studied art in college and also with Leon Bonnat, a well respected French painter. Bonnat was renown for his paintings of animals and people. Below a great example of his style.


Bonnat moved away and Lautrec found another mentor in Fernand Cormon. He also found many friends that would he would remain close to such as Vincent Van Gogh. Cormon was a very different teacher and that he encouraged his students to leave school and paint from life in strange locales. This is what began Lautrec on the path to paint prostitutes. Below a work by Fernand Cormon.


Due to his short stature and irregular body type he was often ridiculed and made fun of, this led him to drink heavily to the point where he became an alcoholic. He even had a cane that could hide a stash of alcohol for the artist.

When first starting his career he sold some works to Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, the art dealer Theo Van Gogh.

With his party life style of booze and nightlife the artist died from complications of syphilis and alcoholism in 1901, at only 36 years of age.

His mother took over his estate and had a museum created in the artist’s birth place of Albi, France.

I enjoy Lautrec’s use of color. When I think of nightlife in Paris with such characters as Van Gogh or Picasso, I immediately think of the Moulin Rouge or the theater crowds painted by Lautrec. His brushwork also makes his work have a great linear feel to it. As if a master drawer, was painting and using pastels. Great paint quality.