TOULOUSE LAUTREC |
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France 1864 - 1901
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born into a wealthy family in Albi, France in Nov 24 1864. Died Sept 9 1901, France.
His family descended from a secondary branch of one of the oldest and most prestigious families in France, the Toulouse dynasty. Before Lautrec's time, this dynasty existed as the absolute rulers of the entire South of France. Lautrec was educated mainly by his mother with whom he had a close relationship, as his parents were informally separated.
Lautrec was crippled from the age of twelve after breaking his left leg and then breaking his right leg at fourteen. Neither leg healed properly due to the probability that he was the victim of the disease pyknodysostasis which results in dwarfism. Deprived of the physical life that a normal body would have permitted, his artistic talent was discovered at a young age, and he received some art training from an animal painter, Rene Princeteau, in Paris when he was fourteen.
Toulouse-Lautrec had a craftsmanly technique, and oftentimes utilized the poster as a means of producing artwork. At the end of the nineteenth century poster production was a way for the young artist to make money and a reputation. Many of Lautrec's prints have distinct practical purposes, as he produced song sheets, album illustrations, and theater programs. For example, he drew programs for Andre Antoine's revolutionary Theatre Libre and for Aurelien-Francois Lugne Poe's Theatre de L'Oeuvre.
During Toulouse-Lautrec's time, the independently wealthy's primary concerns included art, culture, dress, beautiful furnishings i.e. matters of taste. In both the high and low ends of society, the most convincing image of success was style. Lautrec had style. Part of his style was in his ability to see beneath surface appearance and to make apparent in his works the psychological realities he sensed in his models. In portraits, posters, and book illustrations he painted real people who were an integral part of his own life. Lautrec developed a passion for the theater and painted a number of paintings and prints of actors and actresses on the Paris stage, as well as spectators in their box seats. Oftentimes, he depicts the café-concert which was popular since it was cheap, instantly accessible, and appealed to simple tastes. Lautrec was devoted to subjects of entertainment resulting in a need to represent a, "complex, fluctuating scene, chic and seedy, corrupt and commercial, subtle and gross,"
Lautrec was the archetypal bohemian artist of the belle époque, the last decade of the nineteenth century, when Paris flaunted its song, dance, sports, and fashion. He lived during the height of what have been called "the banquet years" of Paris - the fat years of leisure when the city and her inhabitants took up ways of behaving, thinking, playing, and perceiving that begot the twentieth century before its time.
Along with van Gogh, Lautrec is perhaps the most memorable artistic character since Rembrandt, a status recognized years ago by novelists and the film industry. Certainly his "image," in his own time and since, has contributed to the continuing stereotype of the modern artist as an antiestablishment bohemian.
Toulouse-Lautrec's work is autobiographical as it oftentimes depicts an exact portrayal of places he went to and people he knew, though the titles are sometimes misleading. But his work not only reflects exterior influences; it also reflects his interior state at the time, the painful realities of his life as well as his self-image. Often, repressed and preconscious elements in his personality appear as both imagery and style. . Beneath the bitter humor in his work, one can see the profound melancholy, and his ability to catch the essence of personality most likely came from his consciousness of human flaws. His obsessive rendering of movement, whether it be dancing, riding, gymnastics, shows his longing to be free of his own physical handicaps (his disease caused him to be physically dwarfed).
Toulouse-Lautrec's work is on display at museums including: the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York ; the Harvard University Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the National Gallery, Prague; Staatliche Museen, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin.
Toulouse-Lautrec's artwork has come to symbolize a whole era in French life, such as the Moulin Rouge, the "fin de siecle," and the colorful nightlife of the Montmartre. His work conveys a sense of texture and excitement of life in Paris at the turn of the century.
Each limited edition lithograph has been hand sealed with: the signature stamp of Toulouse Lautrec, the stamp of his initials and the dry stamp of the Toulouse Lautrec Museum of Albi which authorized and authenticated these exquisite fine art graphics. ...
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