Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

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Title:
L'Artisan Moderne
Size:
9.75" x 12.5"
Medium:
Lithograph
Price:
$350
INV. #:
7712
 
L'Artisan Moderne" lithograph printed by Mourlot Freres (Paris). Artist: Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Size 9.75" x 12.5": Archival linen backed and ready to frame.

Four colors: yellow, green, dark blue, red-brown. This poster purports to advertise the wares of the designer André Marty, who sold decorative objects for the interior at various locations throughout Paris. Toulouse-Lautrec's poster, however, bears very little relevance to the business it advertises, choosing instead to entertain viewers by presenting them with a titillating image.

In a parody of the stock vignette 'the doctor's visit', an artisan arrives at a client's house and is shown by the maid to her mistress's bedroom, seemingly to perform an 'examination', equipped with his toolbox rather than a doctor's medicine bag. The client, who is prostrate in bed dressed in a transparent negligée, passively awaits his attentions. The maid's expression of distress, the little dog's raised tail and the ruddiness of the artisan's complexion all serve to indicate the licentious nature of the visit.

In 1891, Toulouse-Lautrec decided to investigate the potential of lithography. Working with Pierre Bonnard's lithographer Ancourt, he learned the craft from the bottom up - and within months, brought it to an unprecedented artistic zenith. He managed to cram some 400 lithographs into the remaining ten years of his life, 31 of which were posters, and all of which were the cream of graphic design. His masterpieces define the limits of poster style: where Jules Chéret epitomizes a completely external, impersonal viewpoint, Toulouse-Lautrec is the embodiment of internal, personal vision with a point to make - not, to be sure, a moral judgment, but rather an amused, wry observation on the passing scene.
Once he became immersed in Paris nightlife, entertainers became his primary subject matter, but he was also known to create portraits and caricatures for many of his friends. He skillfully used lines and color to subtly imply background or props for his characters, and these touches incorporated reality with the already present warmth and charm in his posters.
Reproduced (1950), this is a 4 color lithograph depicting the "first state" of the poster, before letters. In the "2nd state" the poster was labeled "L'Artisan Moderne": objets d'art, meubles, ensembles decoratifs. It also displayed the addresses of 3 merchants.
The figure coming forward is the medallist and jeweler Henri Nocq, who was a friend of Lautrec. The poster was printed in its full size in 1894.