Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French artist in the late 19th Century and is included as among the great artists of the Post-Impressionist period. Henri was born on November 24, 1864 in Albi, Tarn which is located in the Midi-Pyrenees region in France. He was born from an aristocratic family that has fallen on hard times. Henri was the firstborn child to Comte Alphonse and Comtesse Adele de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Early Life

Henri became a victim of inbreeding between two closely related families, the Toulouse and the Lautrec. In fact, Henri’s parents were first cousins of which the tradition of marrying close relations have already been practiced a long time before. And because of this practice, Henri developed a number of congenital health conditions that is closely attributed to inbreeding.

Partly due to his health condition, Henri fractured his left thigh bone at the age of 13 and his right thigh bone a year later. The fractures did not heal properly and may have contributed to his legs ceasing to grow among the other genetic disorders he suffered. And because of this, Henri only grew up to 5’1 tall as an adult. And because his disabilities prevented him from enjoying and participating in activities even at a young age, Henri started to immerse himself in art.

Adult Years

Henri spend most of his adult life in the Montmarte section of Paris. It was considered as the center of cabaret entertainment as well as for the bohemian way of life that Henri loved to capture in his paintings. The various night clubs, dance halls, racetracks and circuses found in this part of Paris became subjects of Henri’s paintings. The subjects of typical bohemian life in Paris during that time was either set on canvas or made their way into several of Henri’s lithographs.

Aside from painting the Parisian bohemian lifestyle, Henri also became an active and willing participant. While drinking and partying with friends at a crowded nightclub, Henri would make the occasional swift sketches of the scenery. He would then later on expand the sketches into even more detailed and brightly colored paintings.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec excelled in capturing his subjects in their working environment. He presented them with the color and the movement as they were seen from his eyes, with all the glamour seemingly absent. But being immersed in the bohemian lifestyle of Montmarte also led him to become a severe alcoholic as well as contracting syphilis through acquaintances in the various brothels in the area. Henri died of complications arising from alcoholism and syphilis on September 9, 1901.

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