Henri De Toulouse Lautrec France

11-24-1864 Albi, FRA - 9-9-1901 Paris, FRA

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Toulouse Lautrec, Henri De

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa was a descendant of one of France’s oldest noble families who had been rulers of Navarre in the Middle Ages.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a chronically sick child. At 12 young Toulouse-Lautrec broke his left leg and at 14 his right leg. The bones never healed properly and eventually stopped growing. He reached young adulthood with a body trunk of normal size but with abnormally short legs. He was only four and a half feet tall. In 1882 he went to Paris to study art and settled in Montmartre, where he sketched and painted the cabaret performers, can-can dancers, clowns, barmaids and prostitutes, although occasionally he painted more conventional subjects as well.

He played a prominent part in raising the lithographic poster to a recognized art form. He worked rapidly and feverishly from life, seldom using posed models. He belonged to the artistic milieu in which Impressionists and Post-Impressionists mingled and both schools left their mark on his work.

Alcoholism led to a complete breakdown and confinement in a sanatorium (1899) but he recovered sufficiently for a last frenzied bout of hard work. He suffered a second breakdown and died at the age of only 36 at the family chateau.To ensure he was never without alcohol, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec hollowed out his cane (which he needed to walk due to his underdeveloped legs) and filled it with liquor.

Although exhibitions of his work were not well received in his lifetime, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is now represented in the major museums of the world as one of the worlds artists. 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.

Art Movement: Impressionism, Post-impressionism
Influences: Edgar Degas, Léon Bonnat, Fernand Cormon
Traveled: England

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