At The Moulin Rouge by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


At The Moulin Rouge


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Ref SPC1576
Type Print
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This well-known work by Toulouse-Lautrec was painted between 1892 and 1895, when Toulouse-Lautrec lived in Montmartre, Paris. The painting is set in the Moulin Rouge, a famous Parisian nightclub named after its red windmill on its roof, which was close to the artist’s studio. The Moulin Rouge is regarded as the birthplace of the traditional French can-can, an overtly erotic and scandalous dance. Toulouse-Lautrec frequented the Moulin Rouge regularly and often depicted the club, his friends and favourite entertainers in his paintings. Shortly after the club opened in 1889, the artist was commissioned to produce a series of posters to advertise the club. Thereafter, the Moulin Rouge always reserved a seat for him. 'At the Moulin Rouge' includes many well-known bohemian figures of the time. In the background adjusting her hair is La Goulue, who was the Moulin Rouge’s star performer. To her left is the short figure of Toulouse-Lautrec, who walks next to his tall cousin, Gabriel Tapié de Céléyran. In the foreground on the right-hand side is the striking figure of May Milton, who was another popular dancer at the Moulin Rouge. The small group of people seated around the table includes writer Edouard Dujardin, entertainer La Macarona, photographer Paul Sescau and winemaker Maurice Guibert. The Postimpressionist style of 'At the Moulin Rouge' is heavily influenced by Edgar Degas, who was a friend of Toulouse-Lautrec. Both artists employed unconventional compositions with shallow spaces and bold cropping to create dramatic tension. The visual drama of At the Moulin Rouge is heightened by the balcony rail in the lower-left foreground, which cuts across the picture plane. The eerie, green, illuminated face of May Milton also adds to the dramatic tension as she appears to stride out of the painting.