This exhibition brings together six portrait paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec for the first time. Opening at the Fogg Art Museum April 6 and continuing through July 21, 2002, Three Women: Early Portraits by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec offers a view of Toulouse-Lautrec's earliest work while encouraging an examination of the artist's innovative approach to portraiture and an investigation of the roles of women in the Paris art world of the 1880s.
We are pleased to organize this focused exhibition of early portraits by Toulouse-Lautrec within the intimate setting of the Fogg Art Museum galleries, said James Cuno, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums. It is this intimate environment, combined with an art historical approach to exhibition development, that provides our audiences with a unique and enjoyable viewing experience.
These paintings are the first mature works of Toulouse-Lautrecís career. All were finished before his first commercial success, the Moulin Rouge poster of 1891 that catapulted the artist into the public eye and determined the direction of his career. This gathering of early portraits offers a chance to see these works together for the first time since they were created in his studio.
Portraits were among the first, and the last, works Toulouse-Lautrec made during his brief life, said Sarah B. Kianovsky, assistant curator of Paintings, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts, Fogg Art Museum. This exhibition affords the visitor the opportunity to experience these small, intimate portraits not as footnotes to a career, but as an important facet of the artistís oeuvre.
A complimentary essay by Kianovsky with illustrations is available to exhibition visitors.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864Ė1901)
Born at Albi into an aristocratic family, Toulouse-Lautrec might never have become a serious artist had his physical fragility not made it impossible for him to ride and hunt with the rest of the men of his family. After considerable persuasion, his parents allowed him to study art, first with Renť Princeteau, known for his paintings of horses, later with society portraitist Leon Bonnat, and finally with Fernand Cormon, who specialized in scenes of prehistoric life. Cormonís studio was most influential for Toulouse-Lautrecís career because of the technical skills he acquired and the bonds he developed with other artists.
Toulouse-Lautrec is best known for his depictions of Montmartre in the 1890s. His graphic works and paintings played an important role in popularizing this working-class district and transforming it into an entertainment destination for the upper classes.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
French, 1864 - 1901
A la Bastille (Jeanne Wenz), 1888
oil on canvas,
72.5 x 49.5 cm (28 9/16 x 19 9/16 in.)
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1985.64.39