Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Aristide Bruant, in his cabaret [Aristide Bruant, dans son cabaret]

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
France 1864 – 1901

Aristide Bruant, in his cabaret [Aristide Bruant, dans son cabaret] 1893 brush and spatter lithograph, printed in four colours
128.3 (h) x 96.5 (w) cm
Reference: Wittrock P9 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Purchased 1945

Following the success of Lautrec’s posters of Aristide Bruant, advertising his performances at two chic Parisian café-concerts the Ambassadeurs and the Eldorado in 1892, the following year Bruant commissioned the artist to create another poster to promote his own cabaret, the Mirliton in Montmartre. This compelling dramatic work was remarkable for its radical design. Lautrec has reduced his portrait of Bruant almost to abstract forms, with a limited palette of four colours, beginning with a keystone in olive green, then adding black, red and brown. The emphasis is on line and form, creating volume without shading, accentuated by the adoption of flat colours. The image is dominated by Bruant’s signature black cloak and hat, with the incredible slash of the bright red scarf that falls over his shoulder, as he holds the cane that completed his theatrical persona.

Also radical is the artist’s choice of viewpoint to depict the singer from behind. Despite the simplicity of the poster, something of the complex nature of Bruant’s character is conveyed, with his face in profile and his features delineated with just a few lines. François Gauzi described this complexity, and saw an analogy with his friend Lautrec’s complicated personality:

Like a true barnstormer, he was developing a split personality. When he was not at his restaurant, on the floor, he cut out the swagger and spoke unaffectedly, not without occasionally putting in a colourful phrase: Lautrec was like him in this respect. For the rest he gave the impression of a well-mannered artist, discreetly avoiding the mention of himself, his songs, and even his cabaret. At the Mirliton, the actor in him was in evidence, and he played a role and played it to perfection.[1]

 

With a composition of such large scale, like many of Lautrec’s posters, he would have worked collaboratively with the printer, Charles Vernau. A later edition of this work with the addition of letters was printed at the Edward Ancourt print workshop. With one exception, Lautrec had his lithographic posters printed from the stone,[2] and it is most likely that the newly developed steam presses would have been employed for the edition as these were the only presses capable of working on a grand scale, although hand presses may have
been used for proofing.[3] 

JK

 

[1] François Gauzi My friend Toulouse-Lautrec, translated by Paul Dinnage, London: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1957, p. 54.

[2] See Wolfgang Wittrock, Toulouse-Lautrec: The complete prints, edited and translated by Catherine E. Kuehn, London: Sotheby’s Publications, 1985, vol. 2,
cat. no. P28.

[3] This is according to Anthony Griffiths, ‘The prints
of Toulouse-Lautrec and notes on the catalogue’,
in Wittrock, vol. 1, p. 39.

Following the success of Lautrec’s posters of Aristide Bruant, advertising his performances at two chic Parisian café-concerts the Ambassadeurs and the Eldorado in 1892, the following year Bruant commissioned the artist to create another poster to promote his own cabaret, the Mirliton in Montmartre. This compelling dramatic work was remarkable for its radical design. Lautrec has reduced his portrait of Bruant almost to abstract forms, with a limited palette of four colours, beginning with a keystone in olive green, then adding black, red and brown. The emphasis is on line and form, creating volume without shading, accentuated by the adoption of flat colours. The image is dominated by Bruant’s signature black cloak and hat, with the incredible slash of the bright red scarf that falls over his shoulder, as he holds the cane that completed his theatrical persona.

Also radical is the artist’s choice of viewpoint to depict the singer from behind. Despite the simplicity of the poster, something of the complex nature of Bruant’s character is conveyed, with his face in profile and his features delineated with just a few lines. François Gauzi described this complexity, and saw an analogy with his friend Lautrec’s complicated personality:

Like a true barnstormer, he was developing a split personality. When he was not at his restaurant, on the floor, he cut out the swagger and spoke unaffectedly, not without occasionally putting in a colourful phrase: Lautrec was like him in this respect. For the rest he gave the impression of a well-mannered artist, discreetly avoiding the mention of himself, his songs, and even his cabaret. At the Mirliton, the actor in him was in evidence, and he played a role and played it to perfection.[1]

 

With a composition of such large scale, like many of Lautrec’s posters, he would have worked collaboratively with the printer, Charles Vernau. A later edition of this work with the addition of letters was printed at the Edward Ancourt print workshop. With one exception, Lautrec had his lithographic posters printed from the stone,[2] and it is most likely that the newly developed steam presses would have been employed for the edition as these were the only presses capable of working on a grand scale, although hand presses may have
been used for proofing.[3] 

JK

 

[1] François Gauzi My friend Toulouse-Lautrec, translated by Paul Dinnage, London: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1957, p. 54.

[2] See Wolfgang Wittrock, Toulouse-Lautrec: The complete prints, edited and translated by Catherine E. Kuehn, London: Sotheby’s Publications, 1985, vol. 2,
cat. no. P28.

[3] This is according to Anthony Griffiths, ‘The prints
of Toulouse-Lautrec and notes on the catalogue’,
in Wittrock, vol. 1, p. 39.

Following the success of Lautrec’s posters of Aristide Bruant, advertising his performances at two chic Parisian café-concerts the Ambassadeurs and the Eldorado in 1892, the following year Bruant commissioned the artist to create another poster to promote his own cabaret, the Mirliton in Montmartre. This compelling dramatic work was remarkable for its radical design. Lautrec has reduced his portrait of Bruant almost to abstract forms, with a limited palette of four colours, beginning with a keystone in olive green, then adding black, red and brown. The emphasis is on line and form, creating volume without shading, accentuated by the adoption of flat colours. The image is dominated by Bruant’s signature black cloak and hat, with the incredible slash of the bright red scarf that falls over his shoulder, as he holds the cane that completed his theatrical persona.

Also radical is the artist’s choice of viewpoint to depict the singer from behind. Despite the simplicity of the poster, something of the complex nature of Bruant’s character is conveyed, with his face in profile and his features delineated with just a few lines. François Gauzi described this complexity, and saw an analogy with his friend Lautrec’s complicated personality:

Like a true barnstormer, he was developing a split personality. When he was not at his restaurant, on the floor, he cut out the swagger and spoke unaffectedly, not without occasionally putting in a colourful phrase: Lautrec was like him in this respect. For the rest he gave the impression of a well-mannered artist, discreetly avoiding the mention of himself, his songs, and even his cabaret. At the Mirliton, the actor in him was in evidence, and he played a role and played it to perfection.[1]

 

With a composition of such large scale, like many of Lautrec’s posters, he would have worked collaboratively with the printer, Charles Vernau. A later edition of this work with the addition of letters was printed at the Edward Ancourt print workshop. With one exception, Lautrec had his lithographic posters printed from the stone,[2] and it is most likely that the newly developed steam presses would have been employed for the edition as these were the only presses capable of working on a grand scale, although hand presses may have
been used for proofing.[3] 

JK

 

[1] François Gauzi My friend Toulouse-Lautrec, translated by Paul Dinnage, London: Neville Spearman Ltd, 1957, p. 54.

[2] See Wolfgang Wittrock, Toulouse-Lautrec: The complete prints, edited and translated by Catherine E. Kuehn, London: Sotheby’s Publications, 1985, vol. 2,
cat. no. P28.

[3] This is according to Anthony Griffiths, ‘The prints
of Toulouse-Lautrec and notes on the catalogue’,
in Wittrock, vol. 1, p. 39.




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