Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Woman in the garden of Monsieur Forest [Tête de femme dans le jardin de Monsieur Forest]

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

Woman in the garden of Monsieur Forest [Tête de femme dans le jardin de Monsieur Forest] 1889–91 oil on canvas on canvas
55.6 (h) x 46.4 (w) cm
Reference: Dortu P.344 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Bequest of Joan Whitney Payson, 1975

From 1886 Lautrec rented a small apartment with a studio at 27 (now 21) rue Caulaincourt in Montmartre, which he continued to rent until 1898. A favourite location for the artist, and not far from where he lived, was the garden of Monsieur (Père) Forest, on the corner of the boulevard de Clichy and rue Caulaincourt. Rather than a private garden as such, according to Lautrec’s friend, Maurice Joyant, these gardens were ‘half uncultivated’ – yet there still remained sycamores, lime trees, lilac bushes and carpets of Dutchman’s pipes [aristoloches].[1]

Woman in the garden of Monsieur Forest [Tête de femme dans le jardin de Monsieur Forest] shows the influence of Impressionist and Post Impressionist painting methods, which Lautrec had begun to adopt during his student days, emulating their methods of working en plein air. François Gauzi, one of Lautrec’s fellow students at the Atelier Cormon, recalls how the new ideas permeated the studio and how these practices seeped into their routine:

The influence of the Impressionists on Cormon’s studio was unobtrusive; those pupils who were under its sway continued to draw and reserved their experiments for their private studies, unseen by Cormon. Under his guidance, cheerfully accepted, everyone worked with no other thought than to learn to get along with equilibriums, proportions, foreshortenings and values.[2]

This painting is an exploratory work where Lautrec moves further away from an academic style. Influenced by the Impressionists, his palette and brushwork have been transformed to incorporate soft washes of oil paint over the lines which delineate form. Lautrec has surrounded the model with unkempt foliage – of the kind Félix Fénéon described in his review of Lautrec’s work exhibited in 1889 with the Société des artistes indépendants. With his perceptive turn of phrase, the critic remarked on Lautrec’s ‘hostile women decorated with pharmaceutical plants, euphorbia, rhubarb’.[3]

Lautrec shows the unidentified woman in three-quarter view as a bust portrait. Her heavy jaw, pouting lips, upturned nose and blue eyes that are not at all engaged with the viewer, are unforgiving features accentuated by her hair tightly combed upwards to form a flounce of curls at the top of her head – a fashionable style with working girls at the time. Her clothing suggests a voluptuous body. Beneath the diaphanous pink blouse her undergarments can be seen, denoting that she is woman of the streets who models for money.

JK

[1]Maurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864–1901, Paris: H. Floury, 1926, p. 78.

[2]François Gauzi, My friend Toulouse-Lautrec, translated by Paul Dinnage, London: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1957, p. 8.

[3]Félix Fénéon, ‘Paintings’, 5e Exposition de la Société des artistes indépendants, Paris, 84 rue de Grenelle, La Vogue, September 1889, in Joan U. Halperin (ed.), Félix Fénéon: Oeuvres plus que complètes, 2 vols, Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1970, vol. 1, p. 168.

From 1886 Lautrec rented a small apartment with a studio at 27 (now 21) rue Caulaincourt in Montmartre, which he continued to rent until 1898. A favourite location for the artist, and not far from where he lived, was the garden of Monsieur (Père) Forest, on the corner of the boulevard de Clichy and rue Caulaincourt. Rather than a private garden as such, according to Lautrec’s friend, Maurice Joyant, these gardens were ‘half uncultivated’ – yet there still remained sycamores, lime trees, lilac bushes and carpets of Dutchman’s pipes [aristoloches].[1]

Woman in the garden of Monsieur Forest [Tête de femme dans le jardin de Monsieur Forest] shows the influence of Impressionist and Post Impressionist painting methods, which Lautrec had begun to adopt during his student days, emulating their methods of working en plein air. François Gauzi, one of Lautrec’s fellow students at the Atelier Cormon, recalls how the new ideas permeated the studio and how these practices seeped into their routine:

The influence of the Impressionists on Cormon’s studio was unobtrusive; those pupils who were under its sway continued to draw and reserved their experiments for their private studies, unseen by Cormon. Under his guidance, cheerfully accepted, everyone worked with no other thought than to learn to get along with equilibriums, proportions, foreshortenings and values.[2]

This painting is an exploratory work where Lautrec moves further away from an academic style. Influenced by the Impressionists, his palette and brushwork have been transformed to incorporate soft washes of oil paint over the lines which delineate form. Lautrec has surrounded the model with unkempt foliage – of the kind Félix Fénéon described in his review of Lautrec’s work exhibited in 1889 with the Société des artistes indépendants. With his perceptive turn of phrase, the critic remarked on Lautrec’s ‘hostile women decorated with pharmaceutical plants, euphorbia, rhubarb’.[3]

Lautrec shows the unidentified woman in three-quarter view as a bust portrait. Her heavy jaw, pouting lips, upturned nose and blue eyes that are not at all engaged with the viewer, are unforgiving features accentuated by her hair tightly combed upwards to form a flounce of curls at the top of her head – a fashionable style with working girls at the time. Her clothing suggests a voluptuous body. Beneath the diaphanous pink blouse her undergarments can be seen, denoting that she is woman of the streets who models for money.

JK

[1]Maurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864–1901, Paris: H. Floury, 1926, p. 78.

[2]François Gauzi, My friend Toulouse-Lautrec, translated by Paul Dinnage, London: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1957, p. 8.

[3]Félix Fénéon, ‘Paintings’, 5e Exposition de la Société des artistes indépendants, Paris, 84 rue de Grenelle, La Vogue, September 1889, in Joan U. Halperin (ed.), Félix Fénéon: Oeuvres plus que complètes, 2 vols, Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1970, vol. 1, p. 168.

From 1886 Lautrec rented a small apartment with a studio at 27 (now 21) rue Caulaincourt in Montmartre, which he continued to rent until 1898. A favourite location for the artist, and not far from where he lived, was the garden of Monsieur (Père) Forest, on the corner of the boulevard de Clichy and rue Caulaincourt. Rather than a private garden as such, according to Lautrec’s friend, Maurice Joyant, these gardens were ‘half uncultivated’ – yet there still remained sycamores, lime trees, lilac bushes and carpets of Dutchman’s pipes [aristoloches].[1]

Woman in the garden of Monsieur Forest [Tête de femme dans le jardin de Monsieur Forest] shows the influence of Impressionist and Post Impressionist painting methods, which Lautrec had begun to adopt during his student days, emulating their methods of working en plein air. François Gauzi, one of Lautrec’s fellow students at the Atelier Cormon, recalls how the new ideas permeated the studio and how these practices seeped into their routine:

The influence of the Impressionists on Cormon’s studio was unobtrusive; those pupils who were under its sway continued to draw and reserved their experiments for their private studies, unseen by Cormon. Under his guidance, cheerfully accepted, everyone worked with no other thought than to learn to get along with equilibriums, proportions, foreshortenings and values.[2]

This painting is an exploratory work where Lautrec moves further away from an academic style. Influenced by the Impressionists, his palette and brushwork have been transformed to incorporate soft washes of oil paint over the lines which delineate form. Lautrec has surrounded the model with unkempt foliage – of the kind Félix Fénéon described in his review of Lautrec’s work exhibited in 1889 with the Société des artistes indépendants. With his perceptive turn of phrase, the critic remarked on Lautrec’s ‘hostile women decorated with pharmaceutical plants, euphorbia, rhubarb’.[3]

Lautrec shows the unidentified woman in three-quarter view as a bust portrait. Her heavy jaw, pouting lips, upturned nose and blue eyes that are not at all engaged with the viewer, are unforgiving features accentuated by her hair tightly combed upwards to form a flounce of curls at the top of her head – a fashionable style with working girls at the time. Her clothing suggests a voluptuous body. Beneath the diaphanous pink blouse her undergarments can be seen, denoting that she is woman of the streets who models for money.

JK

[1]Maurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864–1901, Paris: H. Floury, 1926, p. 78.

[2]François Gauzi, My friend Toulouse-Lautrec, translated by Paul Dinnage, London: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1957, p. 8.

[3]Félix Fénéon, ‘Paintings’, 5e Exposition de la Société des artistes indépendants, Paris, 84 rue de Grenelle, La Vogue, September 1889, in Joan U. Halperin (ed.), Félix Fénéon: Oeuvres plus que complètes, 2 vols, Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1970, vol. 1, p. 168.



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