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Galerie Sommerlath

“Reine de Joie” Lithograph by Toulouse-Lautrec - Musee d'Albi Stamp

“Reine de Joie” Lithograph by Toulouse-Lautrec - Musee d'Albi Stamp

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This signed lithograph, numbered 60/275, originates from an 1892 poster and bears the seal of the Musée d’Albi. This well-known lithograph by Toulouse-Lautrec represents the upper half of a poster that advertised Victor Joze’s novel titled “Reine de Joie,” which was controversial in its time.

The artwork features a courtesan and two men, presumably in a place of dissoluteness in the Montmartre night. In the book, the young Parisian woman convinced the banker to compensate her with his money in exchange for her time. The second man seems to be outside the main scene, his focus elsewhere.
The whole work portrays the prevalent acceptance of practices like debauchery, and prostitution in that era and time, the huge social gap between different classes and situations where money becomes a tool of domination.

It’s worth noting that the novel “Reine de Joie” itself sparked controversy as it loosely based the character of Baron de Rosenfeld on the real Baron de Rothschild. Here, Lautrec presents a sinister side of social satire, illustrating a scene from the novel in which a flamboyant courtesan agrees to become the kept woman of a wealthy banker, who has been negatively portrayed as a stereotype—revealing an anti-Semitic sentiment regrettably not uncommon in the 1890s. The book and the artwork even provoked protests from Rothschild and his associates, who tore the visual from the walls of numerous Parisian bookshops.

Lautrec’s distinctive style employs expressive, fluid lines that don’t conform to anatomical accuracy, creating a dynamic composition with living figures. This approach engages our senses, allowing us to almost touch, hear their laughter, smell the scent of alcohol, and feel the depicted scene as if we were part of it in real time.
Furthermore, Lautrec’s penchant for exaggeration and his unique character portrayal make him an outstanding storyteller. The use of black for the man and red for the woman adds an opposition between the seriousness and lightness of the two main figures. He, ugly and fat; she, young and enterprising. The grotesque is accompanied by the visual description of the banker having combed a thin lock of the little hair he has left to cover his bald spot on the top of his head. Lautrec defies traditional perspective rules to place figures in an intriguing relationship. As a signature element in his works, the artist often conceals the legs of his figures. It’s important to remember that Lautrec had a handicap linked to his lower body.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec born in 1864 in Albi and died in 1901, was a renowned French painter, printmaker, and illustrator. Known for his distinctive post-Impressionist style, he gained fame for his iconic depictions of Parisian nightlife in the late 19th century. Toulouse-Lautrec's work, which often featured dancers, cabaret performers, prostitutes, and the bohemian scene of Montmartre - la Belle Epoque” remains celebrated for its vivid colors and intimate portrayal of the era. His art has left an indelible mark on the world of visual culture, and his legacy continues to influence modern art and inspire countless artists worldwide.

PERIOD: Early 20th Century
CONDITION: Excellent
MEASUREMENTS: Height: 27" Width: 31.5" Depth: 0.5"
MATERIAL: Parchment Paper
CREATOR: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Artist)

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