Arts & Culture

At the Moulin Rouge

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864-1901)1892/95

The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s association with the Moulin Rouge began when it opened in 1889 and the owner bought as a decoration for the foyer the artist’s “Equestrienne,” also in the Art Institute collection. Lautrec populated this scene with portraits of the habitués and regulars of the dance hall, including himself—the diminutive figure in the center background—accompanied by his cousin and frequent companion, the physician Gabriel Tapié de Céleyran. The woman on the right is the scandalous English singer May Milton. At some point, the artist or his dealer cut down the canvas to remove her from the composition, perhaps because her shocking appearance made the work hard to sell. In any case, by 1914 the cut section had been reattached to the painting.

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