Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

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La Gitane
9.75" x 12.5"
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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.
This is a 4 color lithographed reprint (1950) of Lautrec's 1900 design. For his two last posters, (this is last or second to last), Toulouse-Lautrec made use of a process by which several colors can be printed at one pass of the printing-press, provided that their sequence is arranged in accordance with the movement of the platen. Here, the man's cloak and the words, Theatre Antoine La Gitane de Richepin, were printed together. It is evident that Lautrec was thoroughly conversant with the possibilities and resources of lithography.
La Gitane, a drama in four acts by Jean Richepin, was first performed at the Theatre Antoine on the 22nd of January, 1900.
A study in oils made for this poster fetched 140 frs. at the E. Elot sale (10th May, 1906).
At the Musee d'Albi there is a study in oils--Mademoiselle Marthe Mellot dansant, de profil--which is an early experiment made for this poster.