Interpretive Resource

Artist Biography: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

A concise biography about Toulouse-Lautrec's life and work.

National Gallery of Art. Micro Gallery—National Gallery of Art. Online Content. Washington, D.C., 2004.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
French, 1864-1901
Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated with the world of dancers, singers, prostitutes, and other inhabitants of Parisian dance halls, cabarets, and cafés. In 1885 he began depicting scenes of Montmartre, a quarter of the city known for its racy nightlife. After this, his principal subjects were the customers who frequented the café concert (a type of bar) and brothels.

Lautrec was born into an aristocratic family, the son of a count. The growth of his legs was stunted following riding accidents in his youth. While recovering he turned to painting.

Through his contact with Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec broke with academic art and set up his own studio in Paris. Five years later, in 1889, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, emerging as a leading post-impressionist painter. In 1891 Toulouse-Lautrec began producing paintings and poster designs connected with the Moulin Rouge, a famous nightclub. Taking up residence in a brothel in 1894, he often depicted women who worked there.

The painter's alcoholism had become acute by this time, and he was institutionalized in 1899. He died two years later following a paralytic attack.



High School, Middle School

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