Childhood illness and injuries steered Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) away from customary rural aristocratic avocations and toward a profession as an artist. He became a painter, draftsman, and lithographer whose work was immersed in famously hedonistic, fin-de-siècle Paris. In his hands, advertising posters were raised to a high art; he portrayed the nightlife of Montmartre-circuses, cafés, dance halls, and brothels-with clear, bold color and a certain seamy panache that is instantly recognizable as his. His much mythologized life has found its way into many biographies and into two feature-length movies called Moulin Rouge.
Lavishly illustrated with 370 color plates, Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre is the first major work to present the artist's oeuvre in the context of Montmartre's lively art scene from roughly 1885 to 1901. Accompanying an exhibition of the same name at the National Gallery of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, the book features the important paintings, drawings, prints, and posters Toulouse-Lautrec made on Montmartre subjects. It also includes masterpieces by contemporaries he inspired or who inspired him-Degas, Van Gogh, Picasso, and others-as well as rarely seen illustrations, lithographs, photographs, and ephemera of the era. And it discusses the artists, writers, actors, singers, and dancers who formed Toulouse-Lautrec's circle.
The book's gracefully written essays by Richard Thomson, Phillip Dennis Cate, and Mary Weaver Chapin, with Florence E. Coman, address these themes in light of the rise of the color poster, the proliferation of new forms of entertainment, and the emergence of a celebrity-oriented popular culture. Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre evokes a colorful, chaotic era, and adds a new dimension to our understanding of the art of Toulouse-Lautrec.