Monday, 24 November 2014

No time Toulouse…

Being brought up in the sixties and seventies and having an interest in art means that I think I’ve always been aware of Toulouse Lautrec.

His Athena posters of Parisian dancers were everywhere back then and if that wasn’t enough there was Monty Python and the ‘no time Toulouse’ sketch.

Well, it's in perfectly common parlance.  No-time Toulouse. The story of the wild and lawless days of the post-Impressionists.

But I digress.

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or more simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a French painter,printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator who led a very colourful and theatrical life in Paris in the late 19th century. He made exciting, elegant, provocative images of the decadence of Paris in those times, often on cardboard, brown paper, or tablecloths.

He’s one of the legendary post impressionist painters alongside Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin – and what a dilettante bunch they were with their missing ears, syphilis, sultry teenage South Sea island mistresses, and of course funny top hats.

Lautrec was vertically challenged, a short-arse, the result of a combination of childhood ailments and rumoured in-breeding. But that didn’t stop him painting big. I love his circus painting most of all. He captures the movement and the light, the excitement, the mystery and the sex perfectly. I can almost smell the horses in the ring and hear the crowd applauding.

I learnt a lot from those paintings with their squiggles, blots, scribbles and flourishes.

Unfortunately though, not enough; I can’t paint like him and I never did run away to the circus.


  1. Vicky Brickhill on FB
    Ah. That explains the Google picture today a la can can ladies.

    1. Andrew Height
      Yes Vicky, he spent an awful lot of time in their company.