Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Study for 'In the salon on the rue des Moulines [Au salon de la rue des Moulins]'

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

Study for 'In the salon on the rue des Moulines [Au salon de la rue des Moulins]' 1894 oil on canvas on canvas
60.6 (h) x 40.0 (w) cm
Reference: Dortu P.558 Hammer Museum, Los Angles The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of Dr Armand Hammer

Undoubtedly Lautrec was a ‘gingerphile’: he repeatedly returned to women with red hair throughout his short career. In his paintings their hair colours range from blondish-red to the brilliant orange tresses seen here. This study is the profile portrait of one of the artist’s favoured prostitutes, Rolande, at the newly opened brothel at 24 rue des Moulins. Rolande’s distinctive features make her easily recognisable: the pointy, snub nose and small chin sliding into a thick neck. So appealing did Lautrec find her that she appears as two separate characters in the large final canvas,[1] for which this is one of a number of preliminary studies. In fact Rolande features in at least 13 of the artist’s paintings and drawings.

Lautrec painted two distinct types of brothel image: those that focus on lesbian sexuality, and those depicting the moments of boredom while waiting for clients. This painting falls into the second category. Here the artist reveals his disposition to caricature and humour, not found in the finished painting or others of its ilk. A reproduction of Vittore Carpaccio’s painting, Two Venetian ladiesc.1490[2] – thought until recently to represent two courtesans – pinned up in Lautrec’s studio, was apparently a source of inspiration: striking similarities exist in the grouping of the figures, the postures and, all importantly, the facial expressions, blank and resigned.

The arrangement of the figures in this study, and those in a contemporary painting, The two friends[Les deux amies] 1894,[3] linked to the final work, show that Lautrec’s initial inclination was towards quite stiff poses. Here Rolande is presented in one of the artist’s most severe postures – almost unnaturally erect and hieratic.


While not exposed, her plump flesh is obvious under her chemise, which the artist renders in shades of vibrant pinkish-red. The painting demonstrates his dazzling mastery of colour and loose painterly brushwork. It was this ability to draw with colour that would later attract Fauvist artists such as Henri Matisse, who considered it Lautrec’s fundamental achievement. The bold red is even more dominant in this study than it is in the final work, with the layering and blending of fields of orange, red and pink in a small pictorial space. He leaves only small accents of green, seen in the second woman’s chemise and in the mirror above, to alleviate the intensity of the red. In the final work he changes the bodice of Rolande’s dress by adding a patch of dark colour and relegating the red to what becomes effectually a shawl.

The final work lacks the boldness and striking rigidity of this figural study, and the artist complained of his problems in achieving the correct light. While the study and final painting display different qualities, together they illuminate Lautrec’s preoccupation with ironing out many details before commencing the final project. This study demonstrates how the final work was the culmination of his time spent in brothels, studying the inmates, and thus constitutes one of the important ‘notes’
that the artist compiled before embarking on a large canvas.

SM

[1]In the salon on the rue des Moulins [Au salon de la rue des Moulins] 1894, 111.5 x 132.5 cm, black chalk and oil on canvas, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi. She appears as the woman in profile on the far left and as the brothel madam to the right of the central figure.

[2]Museo Correr, Venice.

[3]See p. 134.

Undoubtedly Lautrec was a ‘gingerphile’: he repeatedly returned to women with red hair throughout his short career. In his paintings their hair colours range from blondish-red to the brilliant orange tresses seen here. This study is the profile portrait of one of the artist’s favoured prostitutes, Rolande, at the newly opened brothel at 24 rue des Moulins. Rolande’s distinctive features make her easily recognisable: the pointy, snub nose and small chin sliding into a thick neck. So appealing did Lautrec find her that she appears as two separate characters in the large final canvas,[1] for which this is one of a number of preliminary studies. In fact Rolande features in at least 13 of the artist’s paintings and drawings.

Lautrec painted two distinct types of brothel image: those that focus on lesbian sexuality, and those depicting the moments of boredom while waiting for clients. This painting falls into the second category. Here the artist reveals his disposition to caricature and humour, not found in the finished painting or others of its ilk. A reproduction of Vittore Carpaccio’s painting, Two Venetian ladiesc.1490[2] – thought until recently to represent two courtesans – pinned up in Lautrec’s studio, was apparently a source of inspiration: striking similarities exist in the grouping of the figures, the postures and, all importantly, the facial expressions, blank and resigned.

The arrangement of the figures in this study, and those in a contemporary painting, The two friends[Les deux amies] 1894,[3] linked to the final work, show that Lautrec’s initial inclination was towards quite stiff poses. Here Rolande is presented in one of the artist’s most severe postures – almost unnaturally erect and hieratic.


While not exposed, her plump flesh is obvious under her chemise, which the artist renders in shades of vibrant pinkish-red. The painting demonstrates his dazzling mastery of colour and loose painterly brushwork. It was this ability to draw with colour that would later attract Fauvist artists such as Henri Matisse, who considered it Lautrec’s fundamental achievement. The bold red is even more dominant in this study than it is in the final work, with the layering and blending of fields of orange, red and pink in a small pictorial space. He leaves only small accents of green, seen in the second woman’s chemise and in the mirror above, to alleviate the intensity of the red. In the final work he changes the bodice of Rolande’s dress by adding a patch of dark colour and relegating the red to what becomes effectually a shawl.

The final work lacks the boldness and striking rigidity of this figural study, and the artist complained of his problems in achieving the correct light. While the study and final painting display different qualities, together they illuminate Lautrec’s preoccupation with ironing out many details before commencing the final project. This study demonstrates how the final work was the culmination of his time spent in brothels, studying the inmates, and thus constitutes one of the important ‘notes’
that the artist compiled before embarking on a large canvas.

SM

[1]In the salon on the rue des Moulins [Au salon de la rue des Moulins] 1894, 111.5 x 132.5 cm, black chalk and oil on canvas, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi. She appears as the woman in profile on the far left and as the brothel madam to the right of the central figure.

[2]Museo Correr, Venice.

[3]See p. 134.

Undoubtedly Lautrec was a ‘gingerphile’: he repeatedly returned to women with red hair throughout his short career. In his paintings their hair colours range from blondish-red to the brilliant orange tresses seen here. This study is the profile portrait of one of the artist’s favoured prostitutes, Rolande, at the newly opened brothel at 24 rue des Moulins. Rolande’s distinctive features make her easily recognisable: the pointy, snub nose and small chin sliding into a thick neck. So appealing did Lautrec find her that she appears as two separate characters in the large final canvas,[1] for which this is one of a number of preliminary studies. In fact Rolande features in at least 13 of the artist’s paintings and drawings.

Lautrec painted two distinct types of brothel image: those that focus on lesbian sexuality, and those depicting the moments of boredom while waiting for clients. This painting falls into the second category. Here the artist reveals his disposition to caricature and humour, not found in the finished painting or others of its ilk. A reproduction of Vittore Carpaccio’s painting, Two Venetian ladiesc.1490[2] – thought until recently to represent two courtesans – pinned up in Lautrec’s studio, was apparently a source of inspiration: striking similarities exist in the grouping of the figures, the postures and, all importantly, the facial expressions, blank and resigned.

The arrangement of the figures in this study, and those in a contemporary painting, The two friends[Les deux amies] 1894,[3] linked to the final work, show that Lautrec’s initial inclination was towards quite stiff poses. Here Rolande is presented in one of the artist’s most severe postures – almost unnaturally erect and hieratic.


While not exposed, her plump flesh is obvious under her chemise, which the artist renders in shades of vibrant pinkish-red. The painting demonstrates his dazzling mastery of colour and loose painterly brushwork. It was this ability to draw with colour that would later attract Fauvist artists such as Henri Matisse, who considered it Lautrec’s fundamental achievement. The bold red is even more dominant in this study than it is in the final work, with the layering and blending of fields of orange, red and pink in a small pictorial space. He leaves only small accents of green, seen in the second woman’s chemise and in the mirror above, to alleviate the intensity of the red. In the final work he changes the bodice of Rolande’s dress by adding a patch of dark colour and relegating the red to what becomes effectually a shawl.

The final work lacks the boldness and striking rigidity of this figural study, and the artist complained of his problems in achieving the correct light. While the study and final painting display different qualities, together they illuminate Lautrec’s preoccupation with ironing out many details before commencing the final project. This study demonstrates how the final work was the culmination of his time spent in brothels, studying the inmates, and thus constitutes one of the important ‘notes’
that the artist compiled before embarking on a large canvas.

SM

[1]In the salon on the rue des Moulins [Au salon de la rue des Moulins] 1894, 111.5 x 132.5 cm, black chalk and oil on canvas, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi. She appears as the woman in profile on the far left and as the brothel madam to the right of the central figure.

[2]Museo Correr, Venice.

[3]See p. 134.




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