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Art History

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: biography

Henri-Marie de Toulouse Lautrec was born into an old aristocratic family on 24 November 1864 at Albi in the south of France. He was the only one of his parents' children who survived to adulthood, he spent his early youth between the family estates at Bosc and Céleyran and Paris where he settled permanently with his mother in 1872, His poor health, however, did not permit him to stay in the capital for long and so in 1874 he returned to Albi where he continued education with a private tutor. He suffered two accidents, between 1878 and 1879 that resulted in broken thighbones, a very long convalescence and a permanent disability. It was during his convalescence that he began to draw. In 1881 he want back to Paris where he studied with Princeteau , then he moved on to the atelier of Léon Bonnat and finally joined the studio of Fernand Cormon. In 1884 he opened an atelier together with his friend, René Grenier, in the same building where Degas lived. He frequented the Elysée-Montmartre, the Moulin de la Galette, and Le Mirliton where he exhibited some of his works. He participated in the Salon des Artistes Incohérents and worked with several Parisian periodicals drawing humorous and ambient scenes. He became friends with Vincent Van Gogh. Between 1887 and 1895 he traveled a great deal and participated in many exhibitions in Toulouse, Brussels and Paris. These were tumultuous years, even in his personal life: he frequented night clubs –he designed the poster for the opening of the Moulin Rouge in 1889 – and brothels that became prime subjects of his works. In 1895 he worked with La revue blanche and the Natansons; he designed theater programs and worked for several magazines. He alternated painting with lithography and between 1896 and 1898 he published three albums that were not very successful. In 1899 he was hospitalized for alcoholism in Dr. Sémelaigne’s sanatorium in Neuilly where he did some drawings on circus themes. When he returned to Paris he resumed his disorderly lifestyle. In December 1900 following a congestion he became paralyzed from the waist down, to recover after electrical treatment. After a brief sojourn in Bordeaux where he did some paintings inspired by the opera Messalina, he returned to Paris in 1901. His health continued to deteriorate and he was moved to the Chateau de Malromé where he died on 9 September at the age of thirty-seven. His remains were transferred from Sant-André-du-Bois to Vederlais.

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