Posts Tagged ‘Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

March 2, 2010

A French Post-Impressionist, Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) hung out with the Montmartre crowd.  The son of a count, he benifitted from the best, and when his family realized that his primary talent lay in painting (he failed his university exams), they shipped him off to learn.  Unfortunately, though they may have been encouraging on that front, his parents also caused him difficulties.  They were first cousins, and this inbreeding most likely explains TL’s health problems.  (Fragile bones, and a normal length torso with stumpy little legs.)

He did a little bit of everything, from landscapes to posters for the Moulin Rouge to bicycle ads.  Art critics scoffed, but as the son of an aristocrat, TL didn’t really need to care.  He’s also supposed to have invented ‘the Earthquake,’ a cocktail of absinthe and cognac on the rocks, which nicely symbolises his rather sad personal life.  A lifetime alcoholic (perhaps a coping mechanism, as his disfigured body made it hard for him to fit in), he spent his last days in a sanatorium suffering from alcohol-related illness and syphilis, before dying at his family home at the ripe old age of 36.

On a brighter note, the artist managed, in just under 20 years of activity, to create a legacy of several thousand drawings, paintings, and prints.  His cabaret posters have become the unforgettable emblem of Paris’ Moulin Rouge, and now that the art critics are dead, his painting find their way quite easily into museums and private collections.  In fact, his La blanchisseuse set a price record at Christie’s in 2005, selling at a substantial $22.4 million.