Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (born November 24, 1864 – died September 9, 1901) is a brilliant avant-garde painter and post-impressionist of the late 19th century. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s work can be called “immoral” – his paintings show the nightlife of the poor quarters of Paris, prostitutes preparing for work, dancers and clownwomen drinking alcohol and straightening stockings before going on stage.
The master was born into a very wealthy and well-known family in the area, received the count’s title by birthright and, according to his father’s plan, had to live a life filled with horse racing, hunting and balls, become a surgeon or an athlete. But fate decreed otherwise – an incurable disease, revealed at a young age, forever closed his path to an active lifestyle, and the artist’s talent determined his occupation for all the remaining years.
Biography of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec began his life on November 25, 1864 in the French town of Albi. Parents were blood relatives, cousins to each other. According to many historians, this is what caused the boy’s pain.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was the only heir to an influential family, his younger brother lived only a few months, and his father pinned great hopes on his son – in the first decade of the boy’s life he paid much attention to his sports activities, paid for his studies at the elite Lyceum Fontan. A strong, handsome, confident man dreamed that his son would follow in his footsteps. When it turned out that the boy would have to live his life as a cripple, his father turned his back on him forever, practically stopping communication.
And it was like this: at the age of 14, Henri fell from a low chair and broke his thigh. After surviving months of bed rest, he finally recovered … and a year later fell in a ravine, breaking the neck of his thigh on his other leg. It became clear that the boy’s bones were thin and weak, and healed extremely poorly. From then on, his legs began to lag behind his body, and the handsome child turned into an ugly teenager. His height was only 150 centimeters.
The artist’s talent manifested itself at about the same time
The young man began to actively develop it … But not at all as expected of him. Possessing an impressive fortune, he could receive an excellent education, graduate from the best schools in France and Europe. But he did not study for long – he mastered the basics and went on a “free voyage”, experimenting with his own style. And one day I fell in love with Montmartre. The artist was fascinated by the poor area of Paris, which was rightfully considered the epicenter of the city’s nightlife.
In 1884, he moved here from his parents, immersed in the world of cabaret, nightclubs and brothels. The mother was extremely worried about these decisions, fearing that her son’s life would go downhill. And she turned out to be right – it was during this period that Henri began to abuse alcohol, and sometimes – to spend whole weeks in brothels, capturing the everyday life of women of easy virtue on canvas, and almost never parting with a bottle.
Its main theme is women – prostitutes and laundresses, simple workers and bohemians, thin and plump, naked and dressed, different, but always real. The artist’s only love was Suzanne Valadon, a model who later became an artist herself.
He was very talented and extremely productive, over a creative life of 20 years he wrote thousands of works and held dozens of exhibitions. By the end of his life, he managed to recover from alcoholism, but his already poor health began to decline sharply. And the painter, anticipating an imminent death, went to the Malrome family estate, where he died on September 9, 1901, in the arms of his mother, with whom he was very close.
The most famous paintings by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
Drawings and paintings by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec during his lifetime were perceived with skepticism by critics, many could not appreciate the “art of sin”, numerous images of fallen women, in some places bordering on obscenity:
- “Japanese Sofa” (1893) – lithograph, cabaret poster, depicting the famous model Jane Avril.
- “At the Moulin Rouge” (1892) – the artist often visited the famous cabaret and painted dozens of images of its inhabitants. “La Gulyu” (date unknown) is one of the most popular dancers of the Moulin Rouge, whose nickname translates as “Glutton”. Rude and vulgar in life and graceful on stage.
- Clownness Sha-Yu-Kao (1896) is strong, bold, bright, one of the artist’s favorite models.
- “At the circus Fernando. Horsewoman on a White Horse ”(1888) – woman and horse, two favorite themes in one work. In his youth, before moving to Montmartre, the artist painted horses a lot and often.