Toulouse-Lautrec was a gifted artist of sharp perception. Born of an aristocratic family, crippled in his mid-teens, rejected by his father, he turned for expression to his natural artistic gifts. In Paris he studied the then current academic style but found it stultifying. He preferred and was influenced by the Impressionists, Degas, van Gogh and Japanese prints. Unlike most painters, his interest centered on the human side of life. Nothing existed for him where man was not the principal focus; indeed, in his art all else is subordinated to the human.In deep sympathy with the lower classes of Paris, Lautrec concentrated on the patrons and performers in circuses, the actors and actresses of the gay, risqué night clubs, even on the inmates of brothels. His sharp eye rapidly crystallized the essence of his subject and scene. Guided by this impression, his hand created with characteristic sureness the subject before him. He often made many studies before the image was completed to his satisfaction.Toulouse-Lautrec, an accomplished painter, was a brilliant lithographer and draftsman. Femme au Tub
is a sketch for a lithograph of the same title that appeared in the 1896 album Elles.
The album, published by Gustave pellet in an edition of one-hundred, consisted of ten lithographs. They deal characteristically with cleaning woman and servants in their everyday chores. Lautrec's sympathy for laborers was so intimate that it is, at times, almost embarrassing.This is one of the rare sketches for the color lithograph and illustrates Lautrec's continuing development of his subject. First, he lightly sketched the general forms. He then solidified the forms with heavier lines. In several places he changed the shapes of objects—for example, the pitcher—until he achieved the correct image. When he was satisfied with the image, he used bold, hard lines to pick out the figure, pitcher and armoire. In the final color lithograph, the barely-suggested details of the background are more definitely rendered. The back of the woman is flatter and the bed clothes are lowered below the mirror.Referenced Work of Art
- Count Henri-Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec Monfa, French, 1864-1901. Femme au Tub, 1896. Sanguine on paper, 15” x 20”. Signed and dated lower right: T-Lautrec 96. Accession 61.36.2.CollectionsGabriel Astruc, Paris; Galerie St. Etienne, New York; P. D. McMillan, Minneapolis, 3 November, 1951; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 15 November, 1961.ReferencesMaurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, Floury, 1927, pp. 128, 220.