The painter Toulouse Lautrec was one of the outstanding figures of French art and yet we do not know everything about him…
A genetic disease prevented him from growing up
If his genetic disease prevented him from exceeding the height of 1.52 meters, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec used his art to look his era in the eyes. With well-known scenes of life, immersed in Montmartre cafés and cabarets, but also stunning portraits, isolating from any festive context the sometimes lively, sometimes melancholy faces of Paris at the end of the 19th century.
He made more than 5000 drawings !
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was known for his cheerful spirit, his nights spent feasting at the Moulin-Rouge, his assiduous frequentation of prostitutes… However, and despite his very short life – he died at 36 – his work is rich and abundant : there are no less than 737 paintings, 275 watercolors, 369 lithographs and more than 5000 drawings ! At the Carnavalet museum, many posters illustrate his collaborations with various Parisian institutions, such as the famous portrait of Aristide Bruant in his cabaret (1892), the Moulin Rouge (1891), the Japanese Divan (1892), but also his advertisement for the Modern Artisan (1894) and even, more surprisingly, his work around cyclists for La Chaîne Simpson (1896).
He started by painting horses
Before being the portrait painter of the Paris of café-concerts and brothels, Toulouse-Lautrec forged his art by painting… horses. Henri made his first apprenticeship with the animal painter René Princeteau (1843-1914) specialized in equestrian subjects brushed with an alert invoice. The young student cultivated with this master this agility of the brush which translates so well the feeling of speed and lightness characteristic of his style. The teenager then multiplied the studies of gallop driving in Chantilly, Auteuil and Nice, drawing inspiration from English engraving and lithographs from Dreux.
He invented chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse is a purely French recipe that has been delighting the palate of gourmands for about a century. The official author of chocolate mousse would indeed be Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who was inspired by fish mousse to imagine “chocolate mayonnaise”, ancestor of “chocolate mousse”. The recipe has subsequently undergone some modifications, but the basic ingredients have remained unchanged. 5. He loved posing for photographers.
Toulouse-Lautrec was not handsome
Tiny, with a long chest and tiny legs, he had a big nose and full lips, and he lisped. He compensated for this physical infirmity with an excellent character, a cheerful mood and a great sense of self-mockery. This is why he loved to strike a pose and play with this novelty that photography was then. He disguises himself as a woman, as a Japanese emperor, as a clown, undresses willingly…