Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec worked in Paris from 1882 to his death in 1901. He is most known for his work between 1891 and 1900, when he lived in Montmartre, a neighborhood of Paris famous for its cabarets, cafes, nightclubs, and brothels.

Key piece to look for: Jane Avril Leaving the Moulin-Rouge¸1892

Toulouse-Lautrec is best known for his paintings and prints of Parisian life—particularly of the performers that worked in the Montmartre cabarets and nightclubs. He was particularly drawn to Jane Avril, one of the most sought-after performers at the Moulin-Rouge. Although he did not follow any particular school or style, his prints are generally characterized by flat spaces of color, strong outlines, Japanese-woodblock-inspired patterning, and silhouetted figures. Although he tended to simplify his subjects, his depiction of facial expressions and body language was particularly acute. Growing up in an aristocratic family, he grew impatient with insincere poses and facades, and developed an ability to look past these. Some of his models even refused to keep posing for him because of his unflattering ability to paint their true emotions.

Image credit: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril Leaving the Moulin Rouge, 1892. Essence on board; 33 1/4 x 25 in. Wadsworth Atheneum; Bequest of George A. Gay.

Laura Barton is an intern in the Denver Art Museum's education department. Her favorite artwork on view right now is Louis Anquetin's Avenue de Clichy (Street-Five O'clock in the Evening).