Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa was born in 1864 in France. At the age of eight, Henri went to live with his mother in Paris where he drew sketches and caricatures in his exercise workbooks. The family quickly realized that Henri’s talents lay in drawing and painting.
He excelled at depicting people in their working environments, with the colour and movement of the gaudy nightlife present but the glamour stripped away. He was a master at painting crowd scenes where each figure was highly individualized. At the time they were painted, the individual figures in his larger paintings could be identified by silhouette alone, and the names of many of these characters have been recorded.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s skilled depiction of people relied on his painterly style, which is highly linear and emphasizes contour. He often applied paint in long, thin brushstrokes which would leave much of the board underneath showing through. Many of his works may be best described as “drawings in coloured paint”.
Whilst we may think of Portraiture concerns just the head and face in a painting, in fact a portrait can be of a figure in any pose. An area that Lautrec excelled in, as can be seen in a few of his masterpieces below.