Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Confetti

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
artist France 1864 – 1901

Confetti 1894 planographic , brush, crayon and spatter lithograph, printed in three colours on cream, wove paper
55.6 (h) x 42.6 (w) cm
signed lower right, printed from the stone in black ink, 'HTL' monogram not dated
Reference: Wittrock P13 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra NGA 2012.62 The Poynton Bequest 2011

Lautrec had much admired Pierre Bonnard’s poster France-Champagne, which was pasted up in the streets of Paris in 1891. Bonnard had furthered the development by French postermaker Jules Chéret in creating the poster as an art form and a valued collector’s item. A critic of the day, Félicien Fagus, likened Chéret’s art to ‘a burst of multicoloured laughter’.[1] Chéret’s role in the revival of lithography was to influence a younger generation in their adoption of the technique. By introducing fine art design to postermaking Chéret paved the way for a new acceptance of lithography as an art.

Jules Chéret was of humble origins and apprenticed to become a printer to a commercial lithography workshop at the age of thirteen. To satisfy a growing passion for art he undertook drawing classes at night at the Ecole nationale de dessin. His infatuation was for the Rococo period, including Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau, and he would visit the Louvre to see their works on display. French Rococo art was to become a key influence in Chéret’s poster design, where he married an in-depth knowledge of colour lithography with his own artistic leanings. He created a world of brightly coloured gaiety, froth and escapism, which he applied to virtually any topic; and his figures of sprightly young women with golden, tumbling locks and frilly costumes came to be to be known as the ‘Chérettes’.

Unlike Chéret, whose work he much admired, Bonnard did not emerge from a background of printing and the advertising of entertainment. Rather this young artist, along with Lautrec, philosophically wished to make his art relevant to his own time. Aspiring to extend his ideas on art, like Lautrec he came to value print and postermaking, and the decorative arts, as well as painting.

The impact of France-Champagne was immediate and its appearance on the streets propelled Bonnard into prominence in the art world. His contribution in the history of printmaking was that he applied to advertising the techniques of the fine art of painting in its refined more avant-garde form. This was the message that Lautrec embraced when, in response, he created his first masterpiece of postermaking, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue 1891.[2]

Lautrec was to create his own homage to the Chéret style, and in fact appears to have been influenced by his 1892 poster Halle aux chapeaux, perhaps selecting the detail of the young girl in the foreground to form the basis of his design for Confetti – commissioned by the confetti makers, J. and E. Bella of London. Inspired by the bubbly ‘Chérettes’, he creates his own miraculous golden-haired winsome young woman, strewn with confetti by anonymous hands from on high.

Lautrec was now deft in applying experimental techniques, and to create an appearance of froth and celebration he adopted the lithographic technique of craquis. Using a hard brush, like a tooth or nail brush filled with liquid tusche, he then spattered this over the stone, achieving magical results. The arabesque lines and luminous flat colours in golds, reds and yellows of the young woman’s face, golden hair and fanciful hat, contrasted with the voguish long dark gloves and collar, all contribute to a trend-setting poster for the mid 1890s.

JK

     

[1] Félicien Fagus, `Petite gazette d’art: les murs en fleur affiches’, La Revue blanche, vol. 24, January–April 1901, pp. 144–145, 308, 463–464, especially p. 308.

[2]See p, 170.

Lautrec had much admired Pierre Bonnard’s poster France-Champagne, which was pasted up in the streets of Paris in 1891. Bonnard had furthered the development by French postermaker Jules Chéret in creating the poster as an art form and a valued collector’s item. A critic of the day, Félicien Fagus, likened Chéret’s art to ‘a burst of multicoloured laughter’.[1] Chéret’s role in the revival of lithography was to influence a younger generation in their adoption of the technique. By introducing fine art design to postermaking Chéret paved the way for a new acceptance of lithography as an art.

Jules Chéret was of humble origins and apprenticed to become a printer to a commercial lithography workshop at the age of thirteen. To satisfy a growing passion for art he undertook drawing classes at night at the Ecole nationale de dessin. His infatuation was for the Rococo period, including Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau, and he would visit the Louvre to see their works on display. French Rococo art was to become a key influence in Chéret’s poster design, where he married an in-depth knowledge of colour lithography with his own artistic leanings. He created a world of brightly coloured gaiety, froth and escapism, which he applied to virtually any topic; and his figures of sprightly young women with golden, tumbling locks and frilly costumes came to be to be known as the ‘Chérettes’.

Unlike Chéret, whose work he much admired, Bonnard did not emerge from a background of printing and the advertising of entertainment. Rather this young artist, along with Lautrec, philosophically wished to make his art relevant to his own time. Aspiring to extend his ideas on art, like Lautrec he came to value print and postermaking, and the decorative arts, as well as painting.

The impact of France-Champagne was immediate and its appearance on the streets propelled Bonnard into prominence in the art world. His contribution in the history of printmaking was that he applied to advertising the techniques of the fine art of painting in its refined more avant-garde form. This was the message that Lautrec embraced when, in response, he created his first masterpiece of postermaking, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue 1891.[2]

Lautrec was to create his own homage to the Chéret style, and in fact appears to have been influenced by his 1892 poster Halle aux chapeaux, perhaps selecting the detail of the young girl in the foreground to form the basis of his design for Confetti – commissioned by the confetti makers, J. and E. Bella of London. Inspired by the bubbly ‘Chérettes’, he creates his own miraculous golden-haired winsome young woman, strewn with confetti by anonymous hands from on high.

Lautrec was now deft in applying experimental techniques, and to create an appearance of froth and celebration he adopted the lithographic technique of craquis. Using a hard brush, like a tooth or nail brush filled with liquid tusche, he then spattered this over the stone, achieving magical results. The arabesque lines and luminous flat colours in golds, reds and yellows of the young woman’s face, golden hair and fanciful hat, contrasted with the voguish long dark gloves and collar, all contribute to a trend-setting poster for the mid 1890s.

JK

     

[1] Félicien Fagus, `Petite gazette d’art: les murs en fleur affiches’, La Revue blanche, vol. 24, January–April 1901, pp. 144–145, 308, 463–464, especially p. 308.

[2]See p, 170.

Lautrec had much admired Pierre Bonnard’s poster France-Champagne, which was pasted up in the streets of Paris in 1891. Bonnard had furthered the development by French postermaker Jules Chéret in creating the poster as an art form and a valued collector’s item. A critic of the day, Félicien Fagus, likened Chéret’s art to ‘a burst of multicoloured laughter’.[1] Chéret’s role in the revival of lithography was to influence a younger generation in their adoption of the technique. By introducing fine art design to postermaking Chéret paved the way for a new acceptance of lithography as an art.

Jules Chéret was of humble origins and apprenticed to become a printer to a commercial lithography workshop at the age of thirteen. To satisfy a growing passion for art he undertook drawing classes at night at the Ecole nationale de dessin. His infatuation was for the Rococo period, including Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher and Jean-Antoine Watteau, and he would visit the Louvre to see their works on display. French Rococo art was to become a key influence in Chéret’s poster design, where he married an in-depth knowledge of colour lithography with his own artistic leanings. He created a world of brightly coloured gaiety, froth and escapism, which he applied to virtually any topic; and his figures of sprightly young women with golden, tumbling locks and frilly costumes came to be to be known as the ‘Chérettes’.

Unlike Chéret, whose work he much admired, Bonnard did not emerge from a background of printing and the advertising of entertainment. Rather this young artist, along with Lautrec, philosophically wished to make his art relevant to his own time. Aspiring to extend his ideas on art, like Lautrec he came to value print and postermaking, and the decorative arts, as well as painting.

The impact of France-Champagne was immediate and its appearance on the streets propelled Bonnard into prominence in the art world. His contribution in the history of printmaking was that he applied to advertising the techniques of the fine art of painting in its refined more avant-garde form. This was the message that Lautrec embraced when, in response, he created his first masterpiece of postermaking, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue 1891.[2]

Lautrec was to create his own homage to the Chéret style, and in fact appears to have been influenced by his 1892 poster Halle aux chapeaux, perhaps selecting the detail of the young girl in the foreground to form the basis of his design for Confetti – commissioned by the confetti makers, J. and E. Bella of London. Inspired by the bubbly ‘Chérettes’, he creates his own miraculous golden-haired winsome young woman, strewn with confetti by anonymous hands from on high.

Lautrec was now deft in applying experimental techniques, and to create an appearance of froth and celebration he adopted the lithographic technique of craquis. Using a hard brush, like a tooth or nail brush filled with liquid tusche, he then spattered this over the stone, achieving magical results. The arabesque lines and luminous flat colours in golds, reds and yellows of the young woman’s face, golden hair and fanciful hat, contrasted with the voguish long dark gloves and collar, all contribute to a trend-setting poster for the mid 1890s.

JK

     

[1] Félicien Fagus, `Petite gazette d’art: les murs en fleur affiches’, La Revue blanche, vol. 24, January–April 1901, pp. 144–145, 308, 463–464, especially p. 308.

[2]See p, 170.



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