Issue 165 | December 2012
Toulouse-Lautrec | Paper conservation | Family Activity Room | Members news | Events
01 Toulouse-Lautrec Opens soon!

Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge opens on 14 December. This is the first opportunity the Australian public have had to see a major retrospective exhibition devoted to French 19th-century artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in painting, drawing, posters and prints.

Book your tickets now for this Canberra only show.

A range of exhibition packages are available to enhance the experience:

Lautrec’s Tea Salon: enjoy a Parisian high tea with French flavours after you view the exhibition.  Exhibition viewing 1.30pm with tea from 3pm.  Available every day.
Tickets + Lunch: view the exhibition and enjoy a 2 course lunch in the Sculpture Garden Restaurant from Wednesday to Sunday.
Premium early entry: view the exhibition with a limited number of visitors. Available on Saturdays and Sundays, doors open at 9am, prior to the public opening time at 10am. 

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift?  Gift Vouchers allow the receiver to choose when they want to attend, with merchandise gift vouchers also available.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 'The toilette (Combing her hair) [La toilette (Celle qui se peigne)]' 1891 The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Bequeathed by Frank Hindley Smith 1939

For those travelling to Canberra for the exhibition, Accor’s Canberra hotels are offering packages valid from 14 December.  For further information click here.

Keep up to date with events and programs associated with the exhibition by searching the twitter hashtag #TLOUSE or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

(cover image) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 'Tête-à-tête supper (In a private room – At the 'Rat Mort') (Portrait of Lucy Jourdan)' c.1899 The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

02 Behind the scenes
Paper conservation: Toulouse-Lautrec

Materials, techniques & conservation

In the 21st century, surrounded as we are by billboards and advertising material, its hard to imagine the impact that the brightly-coloured lithographic posters of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec had when they were pasted-up on the walls of late 19th-century Paris. Toulouse-Lautrec produced a collection of posters that still dazzle today, as well as an enormous number of editioned prints, portfolios and book covers – many of which are held in the national art collection and will be on display in Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge

Lautrec’s choice of paper was dictated by the printing method, stone lithography, which required a smooth, flat surface to achieve the brilliant blocks of even colour seen in his posters. 

Because they were considered ephemeral, the paper commonly used for street posters was cheap and has a high wood-pulp content which darkens over time due to exposure to light.  Some of the posters in the collection are starting to become slightly discoloured and brittle.  It was common practice to line these thin papers onto a fabric backing and several of the works in the NGA collection have the original fabric backing intact.  Although this is not a treatment employed in the NGA conservation laboratories now, it is relatively stable and will be left intact.

Surface cleaning with hake brushes and erasers to remove surface dirt and grime

(banner image) Andrea Wise, Senior Paper Conservator, inspects 'Divan Japonais' 1893

Inks & Pigments
The inks and pigments used in a work of art can determine potential conservation treatments and display requirements. One example found on a poster is traditional wet process vermilion pigment, which has been supplemented with a red dyestuff to make it much brighter, a common practice in the 19th century. The pigment is currently so bright because the works have been kept in portfolios out of the light; unfortunately it is likely to fade gradually on display. 

Washing a lithographic print in water to remove discolouration and acidic degradation products

Minimal conservation treatments were necessary to stabilise the NGA’s collection of Toulouse-Lautrec works and make them suitable for display. Old paper hinges and adhesive residue were removed; minor edge tears were repaired using wheat starch paste and thin Japanese tissue; and several prints had wet treatment to reduce staining. All were mounted in period-sympathetic mounts and frames.




03 Members news

New York State of Mind

On Wednesday night our members celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jackson Pollock and Morris Louis – two of the world's most celebrated Abstract Expressionists.  Members viewed the fantastic exhibition currently on display – Abstract Expressionism before a celebration in the Sculpture Garden restaurant complete with 1950’s jazz, American styled food and a birthday cake each for Pollock and Louis.   

Toulouse au Rouge – a children’s Christmas performance

Why not bring the kiddies along to our annual Members children’s Christmas performance on Saturday 8 December.  Featuring dancers and performers Toulouse au Rouge pays homage to the style and music associated with the original Moulin Rouge.  An exciting and engaging performance which portrays the chaotic era associated with Toulouse-Lautrec.  Book online here or by phoning (02) 6240 6528.

Give the Gift of Membership this Christmas

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift – you’ve just found it.  Membership of the National Gallery of Australia is a meaningful gift for any occasion, and is one that can be enjoyed all year round.  Introduce your family and friends to a world of artistic wonder by giving the gift of membership.  If you would like to purchase a gift membership you can do so online or by phoning the Membership office on (02) 6240 6528.

Morris Louis 'Dalet zayin' 1959 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 1974
© 1959 Morris Louis

04 Event
highlights Go to calendar
for all events

05 Family Activity RoomCreative activities inspired by Parisian life in the 1890s

The Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge Family Activity Room has been designed to reflect the life of the café-concert and activity on the streets of Paris in the late 19th century. Celebrating the dynamism of contemporary life, café-concerts were new venues where people from all walks of life met, as well as at the famous dance hall the Moulin Rouge and the less well known cabaret Le Chat Noir [The Black Cat].

Exploring the illusion of one-point perspective, Renaissance Family Activity Room

Visitors to the Family Activity Room will move from the gaslit Parisian street to the theatrical interior of a café-concert. In Toulouse-Lautrec’s time posters promoting the city’s entertainments were pasted on the facades of buildings and on ‘Morris’ towers – round billboards that remain a characteristic of Paris’ streets and boulevards.  The Family Activity Room features these towers in order to display reproductions of some of the posters in the exhibition as they would have been seen during Toulouse-Lautrec’s day.  Many of these posters were designed to advertise the numerous café-concerts and other popular evening venues. It was particularly these designs which made Toulouse-Lautrec so famous. Inspired by these works and the room itself, visitors will also design and draw posters for display on the towers.

Le Chat Noir was famous for its elaborate shadow-theatre productions, often performed in a number of sets and accompanied by live music.  A major element in the Family Activity Room is a shadow theatre based on the one at the Le Chat Noir.  A backlit screen provides the ‘stage’ for silhouettes of characters from the exhibition, objects and scenery.  Cut from black paper, children will be able to animate the silhouettes to become performers within a narrative. 


Children construct a cardboard city within a landscape in the Renaissance Family Activity Room

Café-concerts and dance halls were democratic venues where it was possible to observe bohemian strollers, fashionable promenaders and others who made up the demi-monde.  Performers also made these places famous and costumes based on works of art in the exhibition have been created to encourage visitors to engage with a variety of elements connected to a café-concert performance. A stage with floor-lighting will encourage visitors to explore the effects of light. Costumes inspired by those of the dancer Jane Avril and singer Aristide Bruant, amongst others, will provide visitors with the opportunity to perform and draw each other, lit from below, in a similar way to many of the people depicted by Toulouse-Lautrec. 

The Family Activity Room demonstrates and celebrates the contemporary,
urban crowd and the diversity of life in Paris at the time when Toulouse-Lautrec lived and worked there, recording the places he went and the people who made an impact on him.

Family Activity Room supported by:

More photos of previous Family Activity Rooms are available on Flickr

06 Big DrawCelebrating drawing

On Sunday 28 October the Gallery held the annual Big Draw community event. Intergenerational and inclusive in its audience participation, the Big Draw provided 12 activities throughout the gallery spaces to encourage a range of approaches to drawing. Activities were focused on the NGA’s permanent collection and the Abstract Expressionism exhibition, as well as activities in the cafés which focused on the upcoming Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge exhibition with models dressed in costumes based on late 19th-century Parisian can-can dancers.  As part of the Gallery’s Digital Art Education and Access Initiative a digital drawing project using iPads was an innovation and extension of the established Big Draw.

The activities in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander galleries combined drawing with a collaborative construction. Broad strips of coloured paper were cut, drawn on and then woven together to form a large aerial ‘landscape’ depicting hills, rivers and stars. Transforming paper into three dimensional sculptural forms was a theme repeated in an activity responding to a Japanese screen, where visitors were supplied with paper folded into a concertina form. The folds allowed for drawings that conveyed movement and differing perspectives when viewed from either side. In the Sculpture Gallery crushed paper was used to form faceted rock-shaped drawings to extend and explore Robert Smithson’s work Rocks and mirror square II 1971.

A young visitor experiments with the iPad drawing app

The iPad drawing activity proved to be hugely popular with participants. The focus of this activity was the Gallery’s distinctive architecture with the technology allowing new possibilities for collaboration. Visitors were encouraged to draw, save, then swap their drawing with a friend in order to extend the drawing. After printing images these were combined to create a large floor drawing. The iPad drawing app allowed visitors to explore various line types, adjust the scale of the drawing and then to print a copy for the collaborative floor drawing and to take a copy home.

Big Draw supported by:

For more photos of the Big Draw 2012 visit the Flickr album here


(banner image) Visitors collaborate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander galleries

07 The gift of giving

This festive season, consider a unique and lasting gift and donate to the National Gallery of Australia on behalf of your loved ones.  

Help celebrate the opening of Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge by contributing to the annual Members Acquisition Fund in support of the purchase of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithograph Divan Japonais 1893.  This striking and energetic poster will make a very welcome addition to the Gallery’s existing collection of works by this great artist.

By donating to the National Gallery of Australia Foundation you will help us to advance the mission of the Gallery; to create a dynamic and comprehensive visual record of the art of Australia, our region and the world.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 'Divan Japonais' 1893 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Members Acquisition Fund 2012-2013

You will be sent a tax-deductible receipt for your donation and a card to send to your gift recipient who will be acknowledged in Artonview magazine as supporting this important acquisition.

08 666 ABC Canberra Win a private tour of Toulouse-Lautrec before it opens to the public

For all of you in the ACT, be one of the first to experience Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge at the NGA and enjoy breakfast with ACT ABC Local Radio breakfast presenter, Ross Solly from 666 ABC Canberra.

The exhibition opens to the public at 10am on Friday 14 December, however 20 selected 666 ABC Canberra listeners will be invited to attend a private tour of the exhibition at 7am, followed by a scrumptious full breakfast with Ross Solly and the 666 Breakfast program as they broadcast live from Gandal Hall at the Gallery.

No other Canberra locals will have the opportunity to take a private tour of Toulouse-Lautrec with its curator before the exhibition opens to the public. 

This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition will be on display in Canberra only.

To enter, tell 666 ABC Canberra in 50 words or less, what is it you love about Parisian art and why before Friday 7 December.
For all the details, go to

Good luck!

And for our national artonline subscribers, we will be running our national ABC Radio promotion in 2013, stay tuned!

09 Around
the country
Interstate events
and travelling


The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Red Case - Myths and Rituals and Yellow Case - Form, Space and Design | High Country Library Corporation, Mt Beauty VIC, 13 November – 5 December 2012

South Australia

The Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: 1888 Melbourne Cup | State Library of South Australia, Adelaide SA, 26 October – 18 December 2012


Sri Lanka 'Seated Ganesha' 9th–10th century National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn Gift: Education Lending Collection


The National Gallery has recently been awarded three grants from Visions of Australia and the Contemporary Touring Initiative which will assist us with the costs of developing and touring major exhibitions around Australia. Next year will be a busy one for travelling exhibitions, with some highlights listed below:

Stars of the Tokyo stage:  Natori Shunsen’s kabuki actor prints
Travelling to: Rockhampton Regional Art Gallery, Rockhampton QLD; Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth NSW; Cowra Regional Art Gallery, Cowra NSW and in 2014 RMIT Gallery, RMIT University, Melbourne VIC

Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix
Travelling to: Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs NT in April 2013

unDisclosed: 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial
Travelling to: Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide SA; Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo NSW and in 2014 Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns QLD

10 Win a Renault Megane Book your tickets to Toulouse-Lautrec online to enter the draw

The National Gallery of Australia and Rolfe Renault Canberra have teamed up to bring you the chance to go into the draw to win a Renault Megane during the Toulouse-LautrecParis & the Moulin Rouge exhibition from 14 December 2012 – 2 April 2013.

The prize is one new 2013 Renault Megane Hatch worth $28, 880 including all on road costs.

Entry to the competition is open to anyone who purchases a ticket to the Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris & the Moulin Rouge over the age of 18 years.  Only one entry per person is permitted.

Entry can be via Ticketek after purchasing a ticket or at the National Gallery of Australia – Temporary Exhibition Gallery from 14 December 2012 – 2 April 2013.

All entrants must agree to the Terms and Conditions of the competition to be eligible to win.