Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born on November 24, 1864 in Albi, France. His parents belonged to an old aristocratic family. In this family, marriages between cousins were common. His parents were first-degree cousins, and the risk of giving birth to sick children was high.
Henri turns into a young man with disabilities
Although he was a lively and cheerful child, Henry suffered from a bone disease. At the age of 13, he fractured his right femur. The next year, he fractured his left femur. From a happy child, who had everything he could want, he is forced to stay in bed for a long time. The breaks did not heal properly, so, his legs ceased to grow. As an adult he was 1.52m and his body was disproportionate.
Toulouse-Lautrec does not accept to be treated as an invalid. He realizes that a man with his physique does not have many possibilities to live his life. “Art, it can be the means to gain the right to covet, to breathe among people who are not monsters.” (Henri Perruchot, Toulouse-Lautrec’s life)
“To think I never would have painted if my legs had been just a little longer” said Toulouse-Lautrec.”
Despite his health problems, he chooses to lead a normal life and pursues his interest in painting. In 1881 he successfully graduated from high school. In 1882 he entered the studio of the official artist Léon Bonnat. Then he studied with the artist Fernand Cormon. From 1884 he settled in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris.
The Moulin Rouge
At the end of the 19th century, more and more cabaret and music cafes opened on Montmartre. Lautrec was a regular visitor to the cabaret. The theme of his paintings and drawings was offered by this environment: horse racing, dancers, clowns, acrobats and prostitutes. At the Moulin Rouge, Lautrec always had a reserved table. He painted numerous posters for the Moulin Rouge and other Parisian nightclubs.
The poster was an instant success, bringing many customers to the cabaret show but, on the other hand, drawing attention to the talent of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec.
Unlike the Impressionist painters, Lautrec was a realist. He did not embellish what he saw. He endeavored to capture in his works the truth, not the ideal. Lautrec preferred to paint portraits.
The portrait of Vincent van Gogh is a pastel made in 1887. The two painters met in the studio of Fernand Cormon where they took lessons from the official artist.
“No matter how bad the show, I always enjoy myself” he said.
Throughout his life, he treated his condition with self-irony. In Bonnat’s studio, Lautrec made many friends because he was cheerful and was the first to laugh at his disabilities. When he was left alone, the sadness he hid in his soul came to the surface. In order to treat the pain, he began to drink more and more alchool. “No, I’m not afraid of getting falling-down drunk. After all, I’m so close to the ground. ” he declared.
I hope you like this article about the great painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. If you’re interested in finding other articles on our site about art, here it is: 10 classic painting posts you can find on tumblr.