Music by Claude-Achille Debussy
Paintings by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
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Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (1864 – 1901), commonly known as just Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (ON-ree də too-LOOZ loh-TREK, US), was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, caricaturist, and illustrator whose immersion in the colorful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century allowed him to produce a collection of enticing, elegant, and provocative images of the modern, sometimes decadent, affairs of those times. Henri had great psychological insight into the personalities and facets of Parisian nightlife and the French world of entertainment in the 1890s. Lautrec’s use of free-flowing, expressive line, often becoming pure arabesque, resulted in highly rhythmical compositions (example: In the Circus Fernando: The Ringmaster, 1888). The extreme simplification in outline and movement and the use of large color areas make his posters some of his most powerful works.
Toulouse-Lautrec is among the best-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period, with Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin.
In a 2005 auction at Christie’s auction house, La Blanchisseuse, his early painting of a young laundress, sold for US$22.4 million and set a new record for the artist for a price at auction.
Toulouse-Lautrec was mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, which led him to abuse alcohol.
He initially drank only beer and wine, but his tastes expanded into liquor, namely absinthe. The Earthquake cocktail (Tremblement de Terre) is attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec: a potent mixture containing half absinthe and half cognac in a wine goblet. Due to his underdeveloped legs, he walked with the aid of a cane, which he hollowed out and kept filled with liquor in order to ensure that he was never without alcohol.
A fine and hospitable cook, Toulouse-Lautrec built up a collection of favorite recipes – some original, some adapted – which were posthumously published by his friend and dealer Maurice Joyant as L’Art de la Cuisine. The book was republished in English translation in 1966 as The Art of Cuisine – a tribute to his inventive (and wide-ranging) cooking.