Toulouse-Lautrec is recognized around the world as an important Post-Impressionist painter, illustrator and lithographer. He is best known for his works depicting scenes from cabarets, theaters, dance halls, and brothels of late 19th century bohemian Paris. These were themes that the artist lived, beginning in 1885 when he moved to Montmartre and immersed himself in its nightlife.
Toulouse-Lautrec wanted to show life as it is, not as it should be, but this objectivity was not without empathy or humor. His interest lay in portraying people, not only those he met during his nights on the town, but also his friends and the working-class citizens of Paris. He was a hard-working artist, producing an enormous body of work in a wide range of media.
Lautrec made 30 advertising posters in his lifetime, but also illustrated theater programs, book covers, menus, invitations, and sheet music. His expressive use of line found the perfect medium in lithography. He never made a distinction between commercial and fine art.
The collection includes some of the best-known images of this great artist with a total of 21 large posters, some before the advertising letters, prints and drawings (including double-sided drawings), a rare lithographic stone, book illustrations and six vintage photos, one of the artist sleeping taken by his friend Alfred Natanson and another intimate series of 4 photographs of the artist by his other friend Maurice Joyant. A series of four very personal snapshots taken of Lautrec in ‘compromising positions’ by Joyant wraps up this extensive collection of more than 300 original artworks.
In 2018 the collection expanded significantly with the addition of more than 50 objects from the estate of Aristide Bruant. Among the very interesting items available for display in secure cases are two glass negatives of Bruant in his iconic poses, photographs of Bruant in his estate and with friends, accounting logs listings his revenues and expenses, personal notes referring to posters purchased from Lautrec, as well as invitation cards with reproductions of posters originally designed by the artist. In addition, copies of his two books illustrated by T. Steilen, as well as 13 drawings of T. Steilen for some of the images found in the book.
Alsο included are 15 framed poignant handwritten letters of Lautrec to his mother and grandmother touching such interesting topics as requesting money to pay for his rent, comments of Degas after visiting his studio, seeking the address of Yvette Guilbert to send her a painting and other interesting insights to his Parisian life. Other letters are to his printer, suppliers, etc. providing an interesting glimpse at the daily routine of the artist.