Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | At the Hanneton [Au Hanneton]

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

At the Hanneton [Au Hanneton] 1898 planographic , crayon lithograph, printed in black ink on wove paper
35.96 (h) x 25.4 (w) cm
81/100 , edition of 100
signed, lower right, in pencil 'HTLautrec' not dated
Reference: Wittrock 296 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra NGA 2006.325 The Poynton Bequest 2006

In At the Hanneton [Au Hanneton] Lautrec has created a delicate, yet bold print of a patron of one of Paris’ popular lesbian bars.[1] During the last decades of the nineteenth century Paris had a reputation as the capital of lesbianism.[2] Two of the city’s most famous bars were managed by women – Mme Armande Brazier, a mannish one-eyed woman, managed Le Hanneton on rue Pigalle, while Mme Palmyre ran La Souris [The mouse] in rue Breda near Lautrec’s studio. Both women and their bars appear frequently in the artist’s work as he had been a frequent visitor to their establishments since his student days.

Charles Virmaître first mentioned such bars in his slang dictionary of 1894 where he describes them as places frequented by ‘women who love each other with an ardent passion and in consequence detest men’.[3] Despite this, ‘Mr Henri’ was a regular visitor and created some extremely sympathetic images of lesbians, sometimes in mundane postures – drinking, chatting, strolling and dancing – and engaged in the more intimate activities of cuddling and kissing. Although Lautrec was seen as unusual in his choice of watering hole, by the turn of the century Le Hanneton and La Souris were both included on the ‘Grand Dukes’ Tour’ of popular Parisian nightspots.[4]

At the Hanneton is one of a series of works by Lautrec where he concentrates on drinkers at bars. Here the artist has captured a solitary female drinker boldly staring out at the viewer. Seated on a banquette, with her tankard and a wine bottle before her on the wide expanse of table, she leans forward with her frilly sleeves and hands resting gently on the edge. Her painted face is almost engulfed by her large hat and the voluminous ruff around the neck of her elaborate gown. Her direct gaze seems at odds with her fluffy overdressed appearance. To her right, a small dog perches with its paws on the corner of the table, looking alert with ears pricked and tail up.

The woman’s hat is subtly reflected in the mirror behind her head. Together with her direct stare and the bar setting, the composition of this delicate lithograph echoes the famously bold last great painting by Edouard Manet, A bar at the Folies-Bergère [Un bar aux Folies-Bergère] 1882.[5]

The only patch of colour is the tiny black dog. Lautrec was clearly fond of dogs and he made several ‘portraits’ of his family’s pets, as well as those of friends. The lesbian bar owners both owned dogs and Mme Palmyre’s black and white French bulldog, Bouboule, rather ironically did not care for the company of women. He was known to wait until the female drinkers were comfortably ensconced in their seats and then to slip under the table and quietly urinate on their skirts.

SM

 

[1] A hanneton is a type of European beetle known as the cockchafer or maybug. In French, it was also a euphemism for a person who acts without thinking.

[2] Catherine van Casselaer, Lot’s wife: Lesbian Paris, 1890–1914, Liverpool: The Janus Press, 1986, p. 5.

[3] Quoted in Jad Adams, Hideous absinthe: A history of the devil in a bottle, Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004, p. 191.

[4] Adams, p. 191.

[5] Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London.

In At the Hanneton [Au Hanneton] Lautrec has created a delicate, yet bold print of a patron of one of Paris’ popular lesbian bars.[1] During the last decades of the nineteenth century Paris had a reputation as the capital of lesbianism.[2] Two of the city’s most famous bars were managed by women – Mme Armande Brazier, a mannish one-eyed woman, managed Le Hanneton on rue Pigalle, while Mme Palmyre ran La Souris [The mouse] in rue Breda near Lautrec’s studio. Both women and their bars appear frequently in the artist’s work as he had been a frequent visitor to their establishments since his student days.

Charles Virmaître first mentioned such bars in his slang dictionary of 1894 where he describes them as places frequented by ‘women who love each other with an ardent passion and in consequence detest men’.[3] Despite this, ‘Mr Henri’ was a regular visitor and created some extremely sympathetic images of lesbians, sometimes in mundane postures – drinking, chatting, strolling and dancing – and engaged in the more intimate activities of cuddling and kissing. Although Lautrec was seen as unusual in his choice of watering hole, by the turn of the century Le Hanneton and La Souris were both included on the ‘Grand Dukes’ Tour’ of popular Parisian nightspots.[4]

At the Hanneton is one of a series of works by Lautrec where he concentrates on drinkers at bars. Here the artist has captured a solitary female drinker boldly staring out at the viewer. Seated on a banquette, with her tankard and a wine bottle before her on the wide expanse of table, she leans forward with her frilly sleeves and hands resting gently on the edge. Her painted face is almost engulfed by her large hat and the voluminous ruff around the neck of her elaborate gown. Her direct gaze seems at odds with her fluffy overdressed appearance. To her right, a small dog perches with its paws on the corner of the table, looking alert with ears pricked and tail up.

The woman’s hat is subtly reflected in the mirror behind her head. Together with her direct stare and the bar setting, the composition of this delicate lithograph echoes the famously bold last great painting by Edouard Manet, A bar at the Folies-Bergère [Un bar aux Folies-Bergère] 1882.[5]

The only patch of colour is the tiny black dog. Lautrec was clearly fond of dogs and he made several ‘portraits’ of his family’s pets, as well as those of friends. The lesbian bar owners both owned dogs and Mme Palmyre’s black and white French bulldog, Bouboule, rather ironically did not care for the company of women. He was known to wait until the female drinkers were comfortably ensconced in their seats and then to slip under the table and quietly urinate on their skirts.

SM

 

[1] A hanneton is a type of European beetle known as the cockchafer or maybug. In French, it was also a euphemism for a person who acts without thinking.

[2] Catherine van Casselaer, Lot’s wife: Lesbian Paris, 1890–1914, Liverpool: The Janus Press, 1986, p. 5.

[3] Quoted in Jad Adams, Hideous absinthe: A history of the devil in a bottle, Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004, p. 191.

[4] Adams, p. 191.

[5] Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London.

In At the Hanneton [Au Hanneton] Lautrec has created a delicate, yet bold print of a patron of one of Paris’ popular lesbian bars.[1] During the last decades of the nineteenth century Paris had a reputation as the capital of lesbianism.[2] Two of the city’s most famous bars were managed by women – Mme Armande Brazier, a mannish one-eyed woman, managed Le Hanneton on rue Pigalle, while Mme Palmyre ran La Souris [The mouse] in rue Breda near Lautrec’s studio. Both women and their bars appear frequently in the artist’s work as he had been a frequent visitor to their establishments since his student days.

Charles Virmaître first mentioned such bars in his slang dictionary of 1894 where he describes them as places frequented by ‘women who love each other with an ardent passion and in consequence detest men’.[3] Despite this, ‘Mr Henri’ was a regular visitor and created some extremely sympathetic images of lesbians, sometimes in mundane postures – drinking, chatting, strolling and dancing – and engaged in the more intimate activities of cuddling and kissing. Although Lautrec was seen as unusual in his choice of watering hole, by the turn of the century Le Hanneton and La Souris were both included on the ‘Grand Dukes’ Tour’ of popular Parisian nightspots.[4]

At the Hanneton is one of a series of works by Lautrec where he concentrates on drinkers at bars. Here the artist has captured a solitary female drinker boldly staring out at the viewer. Seated on a banquette, with her tankard and a wine bottle before her on the wide expanse of table, she leans forward with her frilly sleeves and hands resting gently on the edge. Her painted face is almost engulfed by her large hat and the voluminous ruff around the neck of her elaborate gown. Her direct gaze seems at odds with her fluffy overdressed appearance. To her right, a small dog perches with its paws on the corner of the table, looking alert with ears pricked and tail up.

The woman’s hat is subtly reflected in the mirror behind her head. Together with her direct stare and the bar setting, the composition of this delicate lithograph echoes the famously bold last great painting by Edouard Manet, A bar at the Folies-Bergère [Un bar aux Folies-Bergère] 1882.[5]

The only patch of colour is the tiny black dog. Lautrec was clearly fond of dogs and he made several ‘portraits’ of his family’s pets, as well as those of friends. The lesbian bar owners both owned dogs and Mme Palmyre’s black and white French bulldog, Bouboule, rather ironically did not care for the company of women. He was known to wait until the female drinkers were comfortably ensconced in their seats and then to slip under the table and quietly urinate on their skirts.

SM

 

[1] A hanneton is a type of European beetle known as the cockchafer or maybug. In French, it was also a euphemism for a person who acts without thinking.

[2] Catherine van Casselaer, Lot’s wife: Lesbian Paris, 1890–1914, Liverpool: The Janus Press, 1986, p. 5.

[3] Quoted in Jad Adams, Hideous absinthe: A history of the devil in a bottle, Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004, p. 191.

[4] Adams, p. 191.

[5] Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London.




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