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Henri-Marie-Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec

(French, 1864–1901)

Elles

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Object Details

Artist

Henri-Marie-Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec

Date

1896

Medium

Color lithograph

Dimensions

Image / sheet: 24 × 18 3/4 inches (61 × 47.6 cm)
Frame: 28 3/4 × 24 1/8 × 1 3/4 inches (73 × 61.3 × 4.4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Nancy and Andrew Ramage

Object
Number

2013.030

This poster advertised Toulouse-Lautrec’s series Elles, a suite of ten lithographs published by Gu(…)

This poster advertised Toulouse-Lautrec’s series Elles, a suite of ten lithographs published by Gustave Pellet and exhibited at the Salon des Cent in 1896. The same image served as the portfolio cover for the series that was dedicated to the daily life and milieu of prostitutes. Here a woman is seen from behind loosening her hair for the male client whose hat sits next to hers in the left foreground. The series, which found few buyers at the time, expresses a high point of color lithography and recalls Lautrec’s interest in the flattening and patterning of forms of Japanese woodblock prints. (“Highlights from the Collection: 45 Years at the Johnson,” curated by Stephanie Wiles and presented at the Johnson Museum January 27–July 22, 2018)In 1896 Gustave Pellet published Lautrec’s lithographic series Elles: a lithographic cover, a frontispiece, and additional ten images. The artist intended these brothel scenes to appeal to collectors of erotic art, yet they are intimate rather than voyeuristic, a testament to his sympathetic appreciation of a prostitute’s life. Here, the woman unself-consciously winds her hair in preparation for her customer, implied by the top hat and clothing on the stool. The gesture is more teasing than overtly sexual, and it is because of this tendency on Lautrec’s part that the portfolios, an edition of one hundred, found few buyers.First exhibited in April 1896 at the Salon des Cent, our Elles is the poster Lautrec made to advertise the portfolio. In it, Lautrec experiments with various lithographic techniques, creating a rich image of light and chiaroscuro while maintaining his signature flat “Japanesque” style. (“Imprint/ In Print,” curated by Nancy E. Green with assistance from Christian Waibel ’17 and presented at the Johnson Museum August 8 – December 20, 2015)

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