Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times.
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec was born in 1864 in Albi, in south-western France, into a wealthy and distinguished noble family that could trace its lineage back to the time of the crusades.
Pursued by his demons, and hating the physical handicap that excluded him from the outdoor country pursuits he loved so much, Lautrec started to drink even more heavily. It was, finally, alcoholism that killed him in 1901 at the age of just 36.
He left behind him, though, the most extraordinary body of work, images of Montmartre at its glamorous, most seedy best, which quickly achieved a global reach.
Peering out of Toulouse-Lautrec’s iconic Montmartre posters, Jane Avril’s pale features, marmalade hair and lithe, subtle limbs have become a kind of shorthand both for Lautrec’s best work and for the whole frenetic glamour of bohemian Paris in the decadent 1890s.
Lautrec painted Avril again and again, not just in the black stockings and frou-frou skirts of her day job, but also in the quiet, mysterious dignity of her off-duty life.
he was a much respected gourmet and cook and also one of the first and certainly one of the most creative cocktail mixologists in France. He practically originated the cocktail snack and because of his strong ties to the cuisine and products of his Southern-French heritage, he introduced the Languedoc style of cooking to the intelligentsia, fellow artists and denizens of Fin de siécle Paris.
Lautrec's theatre and cabaret scenes often poetry the entertainers at their most amusing moments, but behind the comedy there are hints of melancholy, disillusionment, even despair.
Everything Toulouse-Lautrec touched turned to art. His stunned legs, which made him look dwarflike, kept much of life out of his reach. Art brought the world to him. Even when he was drinking at a cabaret (one of his favorite pastimes), he sketched the people with whom he chatted and laughed. The next morning, he'd transform the best sketches into paintings.
Toulouse-Lautrec was also a highly gifted caricaturist and lithographer. The stylized posters he made for cabarets are works of high art themselves.
Henri was one of the all-time greatest artists during the Post Impressionist period. He is known to many for his short stature and his love of the Parisian Bohemian lifestyle.
As a purchaser of their services, Toulouse-Lautrec also had more direct dealings with prostitutes. Indeed, sometimes he would pack up and move into a brothel for days or months on end. He enjoyed shocking acquaintances by giving the address of a brothel as his place of residence. Prostitutes and madams accepted Lautrec as a fellow outcast, and permitted him to wander about, sketching and painting freely on his own initiative or on commission to the brothels. He grew close to his prostitute models; he played games with them, brought them presents, and accompanied them to his studio, restaurants, circuses, or theaters during their time off.
Perhaps as a result of inbreeding (his parents were first cousins and his grandmothers were sisters), Lautrec's young bones failed to heal properly and his legs eased to grow, leaving him stunted, deformed and quite literally déclassé