Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. His life, education and what made his art so special.

Toulouse-Lautrec attention was caught by life and movement; he never drew or painted anything static. The center around which all his artwork circles is Women.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is one of my favorite nude artists. Other preferred artists are Raphael Santi and Jules Pascin.


Content of the art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:
> Toulouse-Lautrec’s life, education and art
> COMPLETE collection Nude drawings and paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec

Both are related with:
> Nude art in the history of nudity


Click on the images to enlarge

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s life 1864 – 1901

Toulouse-Lautrec Self Portrait: 1882

Toulouse-Lautrec Self Portrait 1882  > Drawings from his youth from 1873 till 1882

In the old Hotel du Bosc, below the fortified cathedral where the Toulouse-Lautrec and Tapié de Céleyran families awaited the birth of the fist child of a new generation. In 1864 the child born was given the name of Henri in honour of the Comte de Chambord, Henri V.

While still a small child Henri lived according to the first precept laid down by his father: the only healthy life is the daylight life.

His time was spent on the extensive family estates at Céleyran, near Narbonne, or at the Chateau du Bosc to the north of Albi, constanly in the open air.

We have been in Chateau du Bosc. We were given a tour of his cousin. Watch the video:

His education was not very strictly pursued; he was showered with gifts and often wrote imperious letters about his sporting activities.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec had begun his studies at Albi. At school he met Maurice Joyant, who became his lifelong friend and the founder of the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec at Albi.


personal-art-portraitsPersonal Art – Uniquely Crafted Pop-Art
Pop Art Portraits from Photos, for Home Décor and Outstanding Personalised Gifts. Unlimited previews.
Sweet prices and Pay after your first artwork preview.
Your Portrait in 2 days, CLICK HERE


It is not surprising that Henri should have begun to draw. The members of his family practiced all the art, drawing in particular, if only as amateurs. From the age of ten Henri became an inveterate sketcher. His school notebooks and exercise books are filled with sketches of pupils and teachers, drawings of horses and other animals, and drawings made in Toulouse-Lautrec’s youth on vacation.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec sketch of carriage in watercolor - 1878

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec sketch of carriage in watercolor – 1878

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec early drawing Two old men - 1879

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec early drawing Two old men – 1879

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec drawing Military - 1879

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec drawing Military – 1879

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s health

As his health was not good, his mother took him away from school. On May 30, 1878, an accident occurred. Henri fell off a low chair and broke his left thigh. Fifteen months later he was involved in a similar accident. The second fracture.

Henri was, it appeared, the victim of a serious bone disease. His body alone continued to develop while his legs remained atrophied. For the rest of his life walking was to cause him torture and embarrassment, and he often supported himself on a short cane.

His father divorce because of him. Despite continued Henri remained a cheerful guy and socially competent.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec education and training

Studio René Princeteau and Atelier Bonnat 1882 – 1883

René Princeteau in his studio by Toulouse-Lautrec - 1881

René Princeteau in his studio by Toulouse-Lautrec – 1881

First he got his education from his family on the Sundays. His father and uncles, his grandfather had all been gifted at drawing. Toulouse-Lautrec had proved to be a dazzlingly good draftsman.

His first teacher was the artist René Princeteau. An accomplished painter of horses and hunting scenes, a lively but modest man. Toulouse-Lautrec worked under the direction of this painter, in Paris, in the spring of 1882.

But very soon, the work of Henri far surpassed that of the master. After only a few weeks Henri became a student at Atelier Bonnat in Paris. Each day Toulouse-Lautrec would set out from the Cité du Retiro, belonging to families of high social standing, and make his way to Montmartre, the home of prostitutes and hack painters where Bonnat’s atelier was situated. When Henri returned to Paris after the summer vacation in the Languedoc in 1883 he found that atelier had closed. The plans for the future was left to Henri, now barely eighteen years old.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 19 years old, by René Princeteau - 1883

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 19 years old, painted by René Princeteau – 1883

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec sketch Horse and man - 1882

Sketch Horse and Man – 1882 – Princeteau noted “perfect”

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec The souvenir d'Auteuil - 1882

The souvenir d’Auteuil shows Comte Alphonse – 1882

Studio Fernand Cormon 1883 – 1887

Toulouse-Lautrec’s friends, almost without exception, belonged to affluent or well-to-do families and they brought to the ateliers an atmosphere of intense and diligent competition. Adolphe Albert, René Grenier, Louis Anquetin, and other former students of Bonnat, including also Henri Rachou, were anxious to continue their studies together.

> Read more: An overview of artists of the 19th century

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was among the group of friends who proposed to the fashionable artist Fernand Cormon, painter of Cain. Cormon agreed to welcome them at his studio at 10 Rue Constance, halfway up the Butte.

Look at Google-Maps and walk around in that area of Montmartre:

Lautrec assimilated the art of Cormon

Toulouse-Lautrec had become gradually accustomed to Cormon’s teaching. For in the works executed during 1883-1887 the distinct influence of Cormon can be discerned. In his lively and skillful way Lautrec assimilated the art of his teacher as he had assumed and surpassed Princeteau’s art technique. The nudes and portraits which he painted in somber colors during this period are drawn in elaborate detail in the manner of Cormon.

> Read more: Complete collection of Nude Drawings and Paintings Toulouse-Lautrec made in this period of education and training.

Toulouse-Lautrec set up his own studio in Montmartre 1887 – 1901

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in his Studio with Misia Sert

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in his studio with model Misia Sert. Read more > Life model

In 1887, when the youthful painter left the atelier of his master, Cormon, where he had acquired much technical knowledge but had been deeply dissatisfied to work only on historical subjects. Toulouse-Lautrec was now to set his own studio in Montmartre.

Lautrec rented  a studio in the Rue Tourlaque. He lived there for a time with Suzanne Valadon.

Many art circles in Europe, poets as well as painters were in the mood of fin-de-siècle decadence. Artistic arrogance and thirst for beauty.

> A legion of talented artists sprang up in the overheated atmosphere of those years.

Impressionists, Gauguin and Nabis

These artists had chosen the right moment and the right place.

The Impressionists, having made the first breach in the ranks of the sentimental bourgeois Naturalists, were in their turn of the defensive, striving to hold the ground won against the attacks of the young rebels, grouped round Gauguin, with their latest battle-cry of Synthesis. Impressionists, neo-impressionists, Gauguins’s young men (known as Nabis or Prophets) all existed side by side.

While all this might be a reflection of the complex international situation, intensifed in Paris, the capital gave its own special tone to the scene, thanks to a handful of artists and writers, temporarily in fashion, who filled the salons with their witty talk and the papers with their impertinent sketches or verses.

Artists of Montmartre

One of the leaders was Adolphe Wilette in whose romantic world everyone closed their eyes to harsh realities. Another note was sounded by Th. Steinlen. This Montmartre artist saw mankind in its heights and depths. Both artists are romantics, with a smile and a tear for shop girls, sluts, pickpockets, ballet girls and music-hall singers, in a Montmartre of tumbledown houses, unpaved streets, café dansants and squalid gardens.

These are but the back-scenes of the stage on which Toulouse-Lautrec now appears, and which he changes with the wave of a wand. he never accuses, he only exposes: he never tells a story but there is more of fin-de-siècle life in the few lines and colors or one of his cartoons than in any novel.

Draftsmen like Wilette and Steinlen filled the world of Montmartre with bright and fragrant color, but Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec gave it its true profile.

Nude Drawing of Adolphe Willette

Colored Nude Drawing of Adolphe Willette

Nude Drawing of Steinlen

Colored Nude Drawing of Steinlen

Colored Nude Drawing of Toulouse-Lautrec Half Naked Women

Colored Nude Drawing of Toulouse-Lautrec

Japanese painters

One cannot talk of the end of the 20th century without mentioning the Japanese painters, who had already captivated the Avant-garde Impressionists on their appearance in Europe at the London Exhibition of 1862. The Art from the East opened up new ideas of surface composition and the use of limpid color values.

When Toulouse-Lautrec appears on the scene, the situation in Europe had altered: the supremacy of line as the most exact and honest factor in expression was in dispute. Hiroshige, Utamaro and Hokusai had penetrated the Parisian art collections.

Petty artists took refuge in unrestrained imitation, but the greater ones seized on the new possibilities. None more enthusiastically or successfully than Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Japanese print Plum Garden of Hiroshige

Japanese print Plum Garden of Hiroshige

Japanese print Young woman applying make up of Utamaro

Japanese print Young woman applying make up of Utamaro

Japanese print The Great Wave of Hokusai

Japanese print The Great Wave of Hokusai

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at work 1887 – 1901

Moulin Rouge Poster of Toulouse-Lautrec

Moulin Rouge Poster

He now flung overboard the ballast of academic teaching, and inspired by Degas saw everything with the eyes of an Impressionist, while Van Gogh’s dynamic personality stirred him to seek a free graphic expression.

He found his themes, or rather his nude and life models as he still drew only animals and persons, in the circus, the cafés chantants, cabarets and bars.

Whenever he had pencil or colored chalk and paper to hand, he would jot down the characteristic pose of a dancer or the comic profile of a spectator.

Moulin Rouge Poster of Toulouse-Lautrec

We shall not know exactly when he claimed to have reached his goal but one day in 1891 Parisians found themselves faced by posters in which a few pale colors and tense lines disclosed an astonishing power and held all who saw them.

The very first was the poster Moulin Rouge in which that Cabaret advertised its nightly dance program.

In the foreground is the horrid, grotesque figure of Valentin the Boneless and on the empty dance floor behind his partner, La Goulue, dances a wild can-can. Further back still, are figures, spectators in swatches top-hats and ladies with waving feathers.

Toulouse-Lautrec had produced the first of all modern posters, and created a sensational effect in Paris.

He continued to receive orders for his posters. Singers and dancers seemed to be flattered to see themselves hideously caricatured bu Toulouse-Lautrec. Many of them became firm friends and they would sit with him as he watched hours with block and pencil, to catch an unstudied movement.

The center around which all his artwork circles is Women. The singing girl and dancers regarded him with friendly compassion and, in the case of La Goulue and Yvette Guilbert, genuine friendship.

> All the Nude drawings and paintings from Atelier Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Series 1896

Elles Frontpage, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Frontpage, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Toulouse-Lautrec sought a world in which he could move freely, friends who would accept his deformity without question, and this world he found in the Paris brothels.

From visits to these houses he always brought back a wealth of drawings to his studio. He recorded his observations in drawings, oil-paintings and lithographs, including the series Elles (1896). In this series he gives us a whole world of women, this all done honestly and candidly.

The Clown Cha-u-Kao – Elles Plate One

(See drawing below)
On a bench to one side of the Moulin Rouge dance hall sits the female clown, Cha-u-Kao, exhausted after her turn. With head thrown back, she stares vacantly into space. She has sunk down on the bench. Her attitude towards the opposite sex has become primitive. A look of sullen resignation has eaten into her features, plain to read under the paint.

Lautrec has employed in this drawing a technique he had been working out for some time with the help of his printer and known as “crachis”. He would take a handful of tooth brushes and sprinkle the hairs on the highlights and background of his pictures.

A particular charm of this technique lies in the possibility it gives to color surfaces to merge one into the other without concealing the outline or finer strokes of the brush.

Toilette de Matin – Elles Plate Four

(See drawing below)
The construction of the picture is extremely simple: two diagonals (water-cans and bed-clothes) lead into the depth of the drawing, closed at the back by chimney, bed and wall. They eye of the draftsman and with it that of the observer is placed so low that one almost looks out from below the woman’s bust, which by this effect looms out into the room.

A cynical trick is played by Toulouse-Lautrec on the observer, who realizes to be the imaginary visitor at the bedside and should see himself reflected in the mirror at the back of the drawing.

Two Women – Elles Plate Eight

(See drawing below)
The eight sheet of the folio “Elles”, shows us a dramatic scene between Madame Baron, mistress and one of her young ladies.

Toulouse-Lautrec identifies himself with the types he depicts, by a deep understanding of their fate, in which he almost feels he has a share.

The Dandy – Elles Plate Nine

(See drawing below)

In French Art of the 18th and 19th centuries, there are many fore-runners of this drawing of Toulouse-Lautrec in the series Elles. He underlines the sharp contrast between the woman in het normal attitude, and the cavalier in the ceremonious frock-coat. he is an accessory.

Elles Series, 1896, of Toulouse-Lautrec. Complete.

Elles Plate One, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate One, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Two, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Two, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Three, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Three, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Four, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Four, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Five, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Five, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Six, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Six, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Seven, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Seven, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Eight, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Eight, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Nine, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Nine, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

Elles Plate Ten, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf of Toulouse-Lautrec

Elles Plate Ten, 1896, Drawing-Lithograpf

High Lights of the Artwork of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

In the last period of his career Lautrec considered the circus to be the ideal spectacle, like his own work.

The perfection of the skill of an acrobat or a clown made it possible for him to convoy with extreme economy of gesture and word the most profound human truth. The painting Au Cirque Fernando would be the perfect one.

The portrait of the barmaid, an English girl whose radiance encouraged Toulouse-Lautrec to paint again.

The portrait of Louise Blouet. Toulouse-Lautrec gave her the nickname Le Croquesi Margouin.

At 2:15 on the morning of September 9th, 1901, Henri De Toule-Lautrec died at Chateau de Malromé. His mother Comte Alphonse was with him.

Au Cirque Fernando of Toulouse-Lautrec

Au Cirque Fernando

The barmaid of Toulouse-Lautrec

The barmaid

Le Croquesi Margouin of Toulouse-Lautrec

Le Croquesi Margouin

Will See You

I Hope you will enjoy the artwork of Toulouse-Lautrec.

> COMPLETE collection Nude drawings and paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec

Try to visit these museums:
> Room Toulouse-Lautrec in Musee d’Orsay Paris
> Musee Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi

Google Art Project:
> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec on Google Art Project

Regards
Loek de Winter

Watch my video of my visit to Musee Toulouse-Lautrec.

One of the most beautiful drawings of Toulouse-Lautrec

Debauchery (second plate), 1896. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Debauchery (second plate), 1896. One of the most beautiful drawings of Toulouse-Lautrec I have ever seen.


2 thoughts on “Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. His life, education and what made his art so special.

  1. Pingback: Nude model. Life modelling or the impact of an artist's life model.

  2. Pingback: Male nude exhibition Masculine in Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.

Comments are closed.