Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | The redhead in a white blouse [La rousse au caraco blanc]

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

The redhead in a white blouse [La rousse au caraco blanc] [Carmen Gaudin in the artist’s studio] 1887 oil on canvas
55.9 (h) x 46.7 (w) cm
Lower right: HTLautrec (H, T and L in monogram)
Reference: Dortu P.317 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Bequest of John T. Spaulding

This beautifully nuanced portrayal of Carmen Gaudin captures the tentative personality of this young working-class woman seated in Lautrec’s studio – with paintings within this painting making it a key work in understanding Lautrec’s development as an artist. As does his adoption of a palette and brushwork inspired by a growing interest in the Impressionist and later Pointillist style.

Lautrec no longer has Carmen acting out the role of some type, personality or character from a song by Aristide Bruant, or found in the narrative of a Naturalist novel. This is a portrait of Carmen Gaudin as herself, the modest and timid young woman who was Lautrec’s favourite model for some five years from 1884. She is facing the artist warily, though intently with her dark eyes.

Lautrec has now embraced the new trends in painting. For her face he has adopted a palette of whites, creams and pinks, with darker coloured shadows from opposite on the colour wheel. Her lips are highlighted in reds; her unkempt hair is streaked in oranges, red and yellows over darker shades of browns and greens. All this has been rendered in tiny feathery strokes. Carmen wears a formal fitted shirt with a high collar, in contrast to her appearances when she is acting out the role of the prostitute, as in A Montrouge: Rosa La Rouge, or a laundress.[1]

Behind the figure, and again in feathery strokes in light tones and warm colours, are some of the props and paintings in Lautrec’s studio. Hanging on the wall above Carmen’s head is Lautrec’s painting of his mother, Comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec 1884.[2] His mother is shown in profile, seated on a bench in her garden full of white blooms. Beside Carmen, propped with other works against the wall, is an academic study of a naked bearded man shown in three-quarter view, which was painted in 1883 and would have been a student work produced at Cormon’s atelier. The date precludes this as a traditional study made while Lautrec was at Bonnat’s atelier (although this has been suggested), as Bonnat closed his studio in September 1882.[3] Lautrec wrote to his father at this time that ‘Bonnat has let all his pupils go’, adding: ‘Before making a decision, I took the advice of my friends, and by unanimous agreement, I have just accepted an easel with Cormon …’[4]

JK

[1] Barnes Foundation Collection, Philadelphia; and private collection: M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York: Paul Brame et C.M. de Hauke, Collectors Editions, 1971, vol. 2, P.305 and P.346.

[2]Museu de arte de São Paulo.

[3] The suggestion that Study of a nude man, bust, now in a private collection, was made either in Bonnat’s or Cormon’s studio can be found in Charles F. Stuckey, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, Chicago:
Art Institute of Chicago, 1979, p. 83.

[4]Herbert D. Schimmel (ed.), Gale B. Murray introduction, The letters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991,
letter no. 76, p. 66.

This beautifully nuanced portrayal of Carmen Gaudin captures the tentative personality of this young working-class woman seated in Lautrec’s studio – with paintings within this painting making it a key work in understanding Lautrec’s development as an artist. As does his adoption of a palette and brushwork inspired by a growing interest in the Impressionist and later Pointillist style.

Lautrec no longer has Carmen acting out the role of some type, personality or character from a song by Aristide Bruant, or found in the narrative of a Naturalist novel. This is a portrait of Carmen Gaudin as herself, the modest and timid young woman who was Lautrec’s favourite model for some five years from 1884. She is facing the artist warily, though intently with her dark eyes.

Lautrec has now embraced the new trends in painting. For her face he has adopted a palette of whites, creams and pinks, with darker coloured shadows from opposite on the colour wheel. Her lips are highlighted in reds; her unkempt hair is streaked in oranges, red and yellows over darker shades of browns and greens. All this has been rendered in tiny feathery strokes. Carmen wears a formal fitted shirt with a high collar, in contrast to her appearances when she is acting out the role of the prostitute, as in A Montrouge: Rosa La Rouge, or a laundress.[1]

Behind the figure, and again in feathery strokes in light tones and warm colours, are some of the props and paintings in Lautrec’s studio. Hanging on the wall above Carmen’s head is Lautrec’s painting of his mother, Comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec 1884.[2] His mother is shown in profile, seated on a bench in her garden full of white blooms. Beside Carmen, propped with other works against the wall, is an academic study of a naked bearded man shown in three-quarter view, which was painted in 1883 and would have been a student work produced at Cormon’s atelier. The date precludes this as a traditional study made while Lautrec was at Bonnat’s atelier (although this has been suggested), as Bonnat closed his studio in September 1882.[3] Lautrec wrote to his father at this time that ‘Bonnat has let all his pupils go’, adding: ‘Before making a decision, I took the advice of my friends, and by unanimous agreement, I have just accepted an easel with Cormon …’[4]

JK

[1] Barnes Foundation Collection, Philadelphia; and private collection: M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York: Paul Brame et C.M. de Hauke, Collectors Editions, 1971, vol. 2, P.305 and P.346.

[2]Museu de arte de São Paulo.

[3] The suggestion that Study of a nude man, bust, now in a private collection, was made either in Bonnat’s or Cormon’s studio can be found in Charles F. Stuckey, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, Chicago:
Art Institute of Chicago, 1979, p. 83.

[4]Herbert D. Schimmel (ed.), Gale B. Murray introduction, The letters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991,
letter no. 76, p. 66.

This beautifully nuanced portrayal of Carmen Gaudin captures the tentative personality of this young working-class woman seated in Lautrec’s studio – with paintings within this painting making it a key work in understanding Lautrec’s development as an artist. As does his adoption of a palette and brushwork inspired by a growing interest in the Impressionist and later Pointillist style.

Lautrec no longer has Carmen acting out the role of some type, personality or character from a song by Aristide Bruant, or found in the narrative of a Naturalist novel. This is a portrait of Carmen Gaudin as herself, the modest and timid young woman who was Lautrec’s favourite model for some five years from 1884. She is facing the artist warily, though intently with her dark eyes.

Lautrec has now embraced the new trends in painting. For her face he has adopted a palette of whites, creams and pinks, with darker coloured shadows from opposite on the colour wheel. Her lips are highlighted in reds; her unkempt hair is streaked in oranges, red and yellows over darker shades of browns and greens. All this has been rendered in tiny feathery strokes. Carmen wears a formal fitted shirt with a high collar, in contrast to her appearances when she is acting out the role of the prostitute, as in A Montrouge: Rosa La Rouge, or a laundress.[1]

Behind the figure, and again in feathery strokes in light tones and warm colours, are some of the props and paintings in Lautrec’s studio. Hanging on the wall above Carmen’s head is Lautrec’s painting of his mother, Comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec 1884.[2] His mother is shown in profile, seated on a bench in her garden full of white blooms. Beside Carmen, propped with other works against the wall, is an academic study of a naked bearded man shown in three-quarter view, which was painted in 1883 and would have been a student work produced at Cormon’s atelier. The date precludes this as a traditional study made while Lautrec was at Bonnat’s atelier (although this has been suggested), as Bonnat closed his studio in September 1882.[3] Lautrec wrote to his father at this time that ‘Bonnat has let all his pupils go’, adding: ‘Before making a decision, I took the advice of my friends, and by unanimous agreement, I have just accepted an easel with Cormon …’[4]

JK

[1] Barnes Foundation Collection, Philadelphia; and private collection: M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York: Paul Brame et C.M. de Hauke, Collectors Editions, 1971, vol. 2, P.305 and P.346.

[2]Museu de arte de São Paulo.

[3] The suggestion that Study of a nude man, bust, now in a private collection, was made either in Bonnat’s or Cormon’s studio can be found in Charles F. Stuckey, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, Chicago:
Art Institute of Chicago, 1979, p. 83.

[4]Herbert D. Schimmel (ed.), Gale B. Murray introduction, The letters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991,
letter no. 76, p. 66.




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