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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: The court painter of the Moulin Rouge

By Stephen Eaker

Au Moulin Rouge

Born into an aristocratic and wealthy family, Toulouse-Lautrec would become one of the greatest post-impressionist painters and a powerful force and influence for future artists such as Picasso and Modigliani.

“Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:
The Court Painter of
the Moulin Rouge”
Wed, Apr 23, 4:30pm and 6:30pm
La Ostra Roja
A Casa Verde Annex
San Jorge 45
Colonia San Antonio
130 pesos
Please make your reservations as early as possible
121-1026 or

Lautrec was born a weak child with congenital health conditions that were due to the tradition of inbreeding within aristocratic families. Lautrec’s parents were first cousins and his grandmothers were sisters. At the age of 13, he broke his right thighbone and, at 14, his left. The breaks did not heal properly and his legs ceased to grow, they were less than 28 inches in length at adulthood. When fully grown, he was about five feet  tall and odd in appearance. He possessed the upper torso of a grown man and the legs of a child. His biographers often described him as ugly, with a thick nose, fleshy lips and a beard that did not grow straight down but straight out.

Along with his odd appearance came an incredible ability to draw. His natural ability coupled with studying under various respected painters resulted in a giant of an artist within his small and deformed frame. When he was in Paris, he seldom left Montmartre. The cabarets, dance halls and brothels were his haunts and playgrounds. His artwork captured the characters and times of Montmartre at the end of the 19th century and its sultry and seedy air. When the Moulin Rouge opened its doors, Lautrec was commissioned to do a poster. Inspired by Japanese woodblocks, he ended up revolutionizing the graphic art of posters with his iconic creations. Afterward, there was always a table reserved for him and his paintings of the dance hall with their wild and risqué dancers, like Zidler’s famous “Diamond Dogs,” adorned the walls.

Often ridiculed for his shortness and odd looks, he took to alcohol, a means to escape and drown his sorrows. His drinking escalated rapidly and with absinthe, the effects of his alcoholism became serious. He contracted syphilis too, and his health deteriorated quickly. He suffered a stroke and died at the family estate at the age of 36. However, his paintings, lithographs, posters and drawings started a whole new generation of painters.


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