Henri Toulouse Lautrec Biography

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Henri (Marie Raymond) de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

French painter and lithographer, born at Albi. Descended from an ancient family of southwest France, a fall from a horse broke his thighbones, and he was crippled. Left only 1.55 metres (61 inches) tall, he felt cut off from his family, sought refuge in art and went to Paris in 1882.

There, in the cafés and cabarets of Montmartre (e.g. the Moulin Rouge) he found the subjects for his pictures and drawings – dancers, singers and prostitutes – as well as circus and racecourse scenes.

He shared the gay, grotesque, dissipated life of those he painted and developed a sympathetic insight into their character. The main influences on his style were Japanese woodcuts and the work of Degas.

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In the last decade of his life he mastered lithography and his work in that field had an important influence on the development of poster art.