Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Woman washing herself – the toilette [Femme qui se lave – la toilette]

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
artist France 1864 – 1901

Woman washing herself – the toilette [Femme qui se lave – la toilette] Elles portfolio including cover, frontispiece and 10 lithographic prints 1896 planographic , crayon lithograph, printed in two colours on wove paper
40.6 (h) x 53.0 (w) cm
37/100
Reference: Wittrock 160 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra NGA 1977.16.7 Purchased 1977

Lautrec took his inspiration for Elles from Kitagawa Utamaro’s woodblock prints, The twelve hours in the Yoshiwara, in which the Japanese artist depicted the daily existence of prostitutes in Tokyo.

For Elles, Lautrec spent weeks living in a brothel situated at the rue des Moulins, and created a series of images showing the daily lives of the courtesans. Lautrec found that the women’s relaxed sense of their own sexuality made them ideal models.

The prostitutes are shown in a myriad of ways: lying exhausted on a bed, bathing, dressing, and eating breakfast. There are only occasional sexual references – a top hat, a Silenus and a painting of the erotic story of Leda and the swan. An unusual addition to this suite is the portrait of the clownesse Cha-u-ka-o, shown at a masked ball. She featured in several other paintings and prints at this time. 

Lautrec took his inspiration for Elles from Kitagawa Utamaro’s woodblock prints, The twelve hours in the Yoshiwara, in which the Japanese artist depicted the daily existence of prostitutes in Tokyo.

For Elles, Lautrec spent weeks living in a brothel situated at the rue des Moulins, and created a series of images showing the daily lives of the courtesans. Lautrec found that the women’s relaxed sense of their own sexuality made them ideal models.

The prostitutes are shown in a myriad of ways: lying exhausted on a bed, bathing, dressing, and eating breakfast. There are only occasional sexual references – a top hat, a Silenus and a painting of the erotic story of Leda and the swan. An unusual addition to this suite is the portrait of the clownesse Cha-u-ka-o, shown at a masked ball. She featured in several other paintings and prints at this time. 

Lautrec took his inspiration for Elles from Kitagawa Utamaro’s woodblock prints, The twelve hours in the Yoshiwara, in which the Japanese artist depicted the daily existence of prostitutes in Tokyo.

For Elles, Lautrec spent weeks living in a brothel situated at the rue des Moulins, and created a series of images showing the daily lives of the courtesans. Lautrec found that the women’s relaxed sense of their own sexuality made them ideal models.

The prostitutes are shown in a myriad of ways: lying exhausted on a bed, bathing, dressing, and eating breakfast. There are only occasional sexual references – a top hat, a Silenus and a painting of the erotic story of Leda and the swan. An unusual addition to this suite is the portrait of the clownesse Cha-u-ka-o, shown at a masked ball. She featured in several other paintings and prints at this time. 



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