Toulouse Latrec in Boston

"There was a boy...a very strange and special boy..." before this just becomes an ode to Natalie Cole — did that remind you of Moulin Rouge?

I had a very magical, very Lautrec, experience when I was last at the MFA — I was headed for the Frida Kahlo exhibit when I walked by a large poster about Lautrec, encouraging me to head down the stairs to see for myself — it was extremely Midnight in Paris!

Lautrec has long been a favorite of mine — I would love to have a copy of each of his prints, and the exhibit at the MFA Boston was a dream.

Eldorado: Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret, Lautrec, 1892 (Bruant was a nightclub owner and performer).

At the Moulin Rouge: La Goulue and Her Sister, Lautrec, 1892.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's story is unique. He wasn't exactly the starving, bohemian, belle epoque artist you might expect.

Block for printing lithographs

His family not only encouraged his artistic skill, but they supported him financially.

Study of a Horse, Lautrec, 1880 and Racers at Longchamp, Edgar Degas, 1871

The Loge with the Gilt Mask, Lautrec, 1893

An accident and childhood illnesses led to his stunted growth, which helped him fit in with the 'others' in society, who he felt close to because of his deformity.

Studies from Moulin Rouge and Parisian brothels

Caudieux, Lautrec, 1893 (a popular cafe artist)

The Moulin Rouge, Palais Garnier, and other popular night clubs were his favorite spots to gather inspiration.

Moulin Rouge: La Goulue, Lautrec, 1891.

Guingette Pleurie, 1901 and La Revue Blanche, 1895, Lautrec.

Le Photographe Sescau, Lautrec, 1894.

In fact, his fanciful and beautiful advertisements were some of the first real expert commercial ads to Parisian entertainment — a proper 19th century Don Draper.

Bruant poster editions

Photo of the outbreak of advertisements in Paris.

Yvette Guibert and the Ambassadeurs, Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, 1894 (Lautrec's influence here is clear)

What's so fascinating about his works is how interesting they still are today — their artistic virtues are just as valued as when they were originally printed.

The Passenger in Cabin 54, Lautrec, 1896.

"Le Chaine Simpson" Bicycle Chains, 1896 and Confetti, 1894, Lautrec.

Le Chat Noir, Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Which one would you choose to hang at home?

3 thoughts on “Toulouse Latrec in Boston”

  1. I too am a huge fan of Toulouse Lautrec. They did a lovely exhibition at our Allentown Museum a few years ago and it was delightful to see his artistry and learn about his work and life.
    I love the Aristide Bruant but some of the other works of the women he depicted are even more interesting.

    1. Yes! And it’s so fascinating that artists like Lautrec could go into clubs and spend so much time backstage, studying the entertainers’ way of life and mannerisms — adding more reality to his prints.

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