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Henri Toulouse Lautrec

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Henry Lautec Biography

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.

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.

Toulouse-Lautrec drew on his own pain, trials of outcasts

"What a horrible man!" That's how Marcelle Lender, a Paris operetta star of the 1890s, described the dwarfish, brashly effusive artist who was so enraptured with her that he created no fewer than 25 images of the actress-singer. No matter that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec had offered Lender a large painting of herself, or that his print of her in costume, flame-colored hair set further ablaze by two red poppies worn like plumes, had appeared in more than 1,000 copies of a magazine. For Lender, he remained the odious little fellow who had sat down, uninvited, at her restaurant table and eaten food off her plate. Certainly he wasn't one for positive first impressions, this Toulouse-Lautrec: His growth stunted by a genetic disease, he walked awkwardly with a cane,...

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