Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | May Milton

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

May Milton 1895 planographic , brush, crayon, spatter and transfer screen lithograph, printed in five colours on wove paper
79.5 (h) x 62.0 (w) cm , final state
signed and dated, lower left, printed from the stone in black ink, 'HTL 95' monogram
Reference: Wittrock P17 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra NGA 2010.349 The Poynton Bequest 2010

The singularly untalented young English woman, May Milton, danced briefly on stage in Paris as part of a performing troupe and then in a solo act. Despite her short career in the limelight, she was to become the subject of several of Lautrec’s works, notably the painting Au Moulin Rouge 1892–95.[1] Commissioned for her American tour, this remarkable poster of great simplicity and technical virtuosity ensured the performer would have lasting fame. It came to be known in Parisian circles when it was reproduced in Le Rire on 3 August 1895.

Lautrec has used five colours, applying the tusche in a combination of crayon, brush and spatter techniques. The work is one of elegance and simplicity, perhaps under the particular influence of James McNeill Whistler at this time. The details of May Milton’s clothing are kept to a minimum and consist of understated sinuous lines without modelling, with the exposed wove paper acting as the colour of her dress. Lautrec has set this figure against a deep blue background, with added colour in the lettering, her golden hair, blue eyes and pink lips, and the decorative lining of her frock delineated in blue. Her tiny black-shod feet poke out from her swirling garment as she dances on the wooden boards of the stage. In just a few strokes Lautrec has captured the essence of his subject, including her squinty eyes and pug-faced features.

Like other examples of his posters of the stars of Montmartre, which brought him great success and popularity, Lautrec has focused on a central figure without reference to the venue where she performed. Picasso much admired this poster and hung a copy in his own studio, which was the subject of his painting The blue room 1901.[2]

Lovers, May Milton and May Belfort, each commissioned Lautrec to make publicity posters and he designed them as pendants.[3]

JK

 

[1] The Art Institute of Chicago.

[2] Philips Collection, Washington, DC.

[3] See p. 202.

The singularly untalented young English woman, May Milton, danced briefly on stage in Paris as part of a performing troupe and then in a solo act. Despite her short career in the limelight, she was to become the subject of several of Lautrec’s works, notably the painting Au Moulin Rouge 1892–95.[1] Commissioned for her American tour, this remarkable poster of great simplicity and technical virtuosity ensured the performer would have lasting fame. It came to be known in Parisian circles when it was reproduced in Le Rire on 3 August 1895.

Lautrec has used five colours, applying the tusche in a combination of crayon, brush and spatter techniques. The work is one of elegance and simplicity, perhaps under the particular influence of James McNeill Whistler at this time. The details of May Milton’s clothing are kept to a minimum and consist of understated sinuous lines without modelling, with the exposed wove paper acting as the colour of her dress. Lautrec has set this figure against a deep blue background, with added colour in the lettering, her golden hair, blue eyes and pink lips, and the decorative lining of her frock delineated in blue. Her tiny black-shod feet poke out from her swirling garment as she dances on the wooden boards of the stage. In just a few strokes Lautrec has captured the essence of his subject, including her squinty eyes and pug-faced features.

Like other examples of his posters of the stars of Montmartre, which brought him great success and popularity, Lautrec has focused on a central figure without reference to the venue where she performed. Picasso much admired this poster and hung a copy in his own studio, which was the subject of his painting The blue room 1901.[2]

Lovers, May Milton and May Belfort, each commissioned Lautrec to make publicity posters and he designed them as pendants.[3]

JK

 

[1] The Art Institute of Chicago.

[2] Philips Collection, Washington, DC.

[3] See p. 202.

The singularly untalented young English woman, May Milton, danced briefly on stage in Paris as part of a performing troupe and then in a solo act. Despite her short career in the limelight, she was to become the subject of several of Lautrec’s works, notably the painting Au Moulin Rouge 1892–95.[1] Commissioned for her American tour, this remarkable poster of great simplicity and technical virtuosity ensured the performer would have lasting fame. It came to be known in Parisian circles when it was reproduced in Le Rire on 3 August 1895.

Lautrec has used five colours, applying the tusche in a combination of crayon, brush and spatter techniques. The work is one of elegance and simplicity, perhaps under the particular influence of James McNeill Whistler at this time. The details of May Milton’s clothing are kept to a minimum and consist of understated sinuous lines without modelling, with the exposed wove paper acting as the colour of her dress. Lautrec has set this figure against a deep blue background, with added colour in the lettering, her golden hair, blue eyes and pink lips, and the decorative lining of her frock delineated in blue. Her tiny black-shod feet poke out from her swirling garment as she dances on the wooden boards of the stage. In just a few strokes Lautrec has captured the essence of his subject, including her squinty eyes and pug-faced features.

Like other examples of his posters of the stars of Montmartre, which brought him great success and popularity, Lautrec has focused on a central figure without reference to the venue where she performed. Picasso much admired this poster and hung a copy in his own studio, which was the subject of his painting The blue room 1901.[2]

Lovers, May Milton and May Belfort, each commissioned Lautrec to make publicity posters and he designed them as pendants.[3]

JK

 

[1] The Art Institute of Chicago.

[2] Philips Collection, Washington, DC.

[3] See p. 202.



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