Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Marcelle Lender

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

Marcelle Lender c.1893–95 black chalk drawing
32.9 (h) x 22.2 (w) cm
Reference: Dortu D.3.766 The British Museum, London Gift of M. César M. de Hauke

Marcelle Lender (Anne-Marie Marcelle Bastien) was a French singer and dancer who made her reputation as a star performer at the Montmartre Théâtre des Variétés. Lender became a particular favourite of Lautrec’s and the artist portrayed her on numerous occasions in both his paintings and prints. In fact Lender was to become somewhat of an obsession of Lautrec’s, especially following her performance in the operetta Chilpéric, where Lautrec returned to the theatre 19 times to see Lender perform.

The 1890s comic operetta, created by the French composer and conductor Herve, was based on the king of Neustria, Chilpéric I, a notorious historical figure of the sixth century who went to war against his brothers over the various French territories inherited from their father. Chilpéric was known to be a rapacious lover who, upon growing weary of his second wife, Galswinthe, strangled her in order to marry his concubine, Fredegund. Lender played the role of the ill-fated Galswinthe.

During performances Lautrec preferred to sit in the stalls, where from the front row he could observe in intimate detail Lender’s facial expressions, her opulent costumes, stylised hair and heavy stage make-up. He created over 15 lithographs and paintings of Lender performing in Chilpéric, which includes the depiction of the actress dancing the infamous Bolero in the major scene of the operetta, immortalised in Lautrec’s painting, where she is illuminated from below by the gas footlights at the Théâtre des Variétés.[1] 

In this lightly sketched black chalk drawing Lautrec depicts only the head and shoulders of the actress in what appears to be her stage costume. The main focus is the thick black choker around her neck, drawing attention to her intense facial expression. Lautrec shows Lender with her head turned to the right, her painted eyebrows raised, nostrils flared and made-up lips pursed as if she is drawing breath mid performance. In the manner of Edgar Degas and, before him, Honoré Daumier, Lautrec views his subject from below, as if from the front row.

For the artist, Lender was elegant and fascinating, a star performer whose striking physique was of interest to him; in particular, the shape of her long neck became the compositional feature in a number of Lautrec’s depictions of the actress.[2]

JB

 

[1]Marcelle Lender dancing the Bolero in Chilpéric, 1895–96, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London; M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York:
Paul Brame et C.M. de Hauke, Collectors Editions, 1971, vol. 3, P.627.

[2] See p. 206.

Marcelle Lender (Anne-Marie Marcelle Bastien) was a French singer and dancer who made her reputation as a star performer at the Montmartre Théâtre des Variétés. Lender became a particular favourite of Lautrec’s and the artist portrayed her on numerous occasions in both his paintings and prints. In fact Lender was to become somewhat of an obsession of Lautrec’s, especially following her performance in the operetta Chilpéric, where Lautrec returned to the theatre 19 times to see Lender perform.

The 1890s comic operetta, created by the French composer and conductor Herve, was based on the king of Neustria, Chilpéric I, a notorious historical figure of the sixth century who went to war against his brothers over the various French territories inherited from their father. Chilpéric was known to be a rapacious lover who, upon growing weary of his second wife, Galswinthe, strangled her in order to marry his concubine, Fredegund. Lender played the role of the ill-fated Galswinthe.

During performances Lautrec preferred to sit in the stalls, where from the front row he could observe in intimate detail Lender’s facial expressions, her opulent costumes, stylised hair and heavy stage make-up. He created over 15 lithographs and paintings of Lender performing in Chilpéric, which includes the depiction of the actress dancing the infamous Bolero in the major scene of the operetta, immortalised in Lautrec’s painting, where she is illuminated from below by the gas footlights at the Théâtre des Variétés.[1] 

In this lightly sketched black chalk drawing Lautrec depicts only the head and shoulders of the actress in what appears to be her stage costume. The main focus is the thick black choker around her neck, drawing attention to her intense facial expression. Lautrec shows Lender with her head turned to the right, her painted eyebrows raised, nostrils flared and made-up lips pursed as if she is drawing breath mid performance. In the manner of Edgar Degas and, before him, Honoré Daumier, Lautrec views his subject from below, as if from the front row.

For the artist, Lender was elegant and fascinating, a star performer whose striking physique was of interest to him; in particular, the shape of her long neck became the compositional feature in a number of Lautrec’s depictions of the actress.[2]

JB

 

[1]Marcelle Lender dancing the Bolero in Chilpéric, 1895–96, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London; M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York:
Paul Brame et C.M. de Hauke, Collectors Editions, 1971, vol. 3, P.627.

[2] See p. 206.

Marcelle Lender (Anne-Marie Marcelle Bastien) was a French singer and dancer who made her reputation as a star performer at the Montmartre Théâtre des Variétés. Lender became a particular favourite of Lautrec’s and the artist portrayed her on numerous occasions in both his paintings and prints. In fact Lender was to become somewhat of an obsession of Lautrec’s, especially following her performance in the operetta Chilpéric, where Lautrec returned to the theatre 19 times to see Lender perform.

The 1890s comic operetta, created by the French composer and conductor Herve, was based on the king of Neustria, Chilpéric I, a notorious historical figure of the sixth century who went to war against his brothers over the various French territories inherited from their father. Chilpéric was known to be a rapacious lover who, upon growing weary of his second wife, Galswinthe, strangled her in order to marry his concubine, Fredegund. Lender played the role of the ill-fated Galswinthe.

During performances Lautrec preferred to sit in the stalls, where from the front row he could observe in intimate detail Lender’s facial expressions, her opulent costumes, stylised hair and heavy stage make-up. He created over 15 lithographs and paintings of Lender performing in Chilpéric, which includes the depiction of the actress dancing the infamous Bolero in the major scene of the operetta, immortalised in Lautrec’s painting, where she is illuminated from below by the gas footlights at the Théâtre des Variétés.[1] 

In this lightly sketched black chalk drawing Lautrec depicts only the head and shoulders of the actress in what appears to be her stage costume. The main focus is the thick black choker around her neck, drawing attention to her intense facial expression. Lautrec shows Lender with her head turned to the right, her painted eyebrows raised, nostrils flared and made-up lips pursed as if she is drawing breath mid performance. In the manner of Edgar Degas and, before him, Honoré Daumier, Lautrec views his subject from below, as if from the front row.

For the artist, Lender was elegant and fascinating, a star performer whose striking physique was of interest to him; in particular, the shape of her long neck became the compositional feature in a number of Lautrec’s depictions of the actress.[2]

JB

 

[1]Marcelle Lender dancing the Bolero in Chilpéric, 1895–96, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London; M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York:
Paul Brame et C.M. de Hauke, Collectors Editions, 1971, vol. 3, P.627.

[2] See p. 206.




Image detail: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec La Goulue entering the Moulin Rouge [La Goulue entrant au Moulin Rouge] 1892
The Museum of Modern Art, New York Gift of Mrs David M. Levy