Performers of the Belle Époque: Yvette Guilbert

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

Yvette Guilbert

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Yvette Guilbert, 1893. Brush and crayon lithograph, printed in brownish black on wove paper. Only state, regular edition, from Le Café Concert album, Paris: L’Estampe originale. Private collection

Pictured here, Yvette Guilbert had a vocal style, unusual physical appearance, and celebrated comic timing that won her international celebrity. She sang songs by poets and writers that tackled themes of death, sex, and poverty. She relied on humor to soften “all the indecencies, all the excesses, all the vices of my contemporaries, and to enable them to laugh at themselves.”

Can You Find the Toulouse-Lautrec Work In This Picasso?

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

May Milton_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, May Milton, 1895. Crayon, brush, spatter, and transferred screen lithograph, printed in five colors. Key stone printed in olive green, color stones in blue, red, yellow, and black on wove paper, 31 5⁄16 × 24 in. Private collection

Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized English dancer May Milton in this commission, which was meant to advertise a US tour that never occurred. A preparatory drawing reveals the creative impulse. For the poster, Toulouse-Lautrec used five colors, saturating the background in blue and using the white of the paper to define Milton’s body. A swirling pattern highlights the underside of her dress. The poster is shown here with a rare trial proof printed in olive green and black, one of only four impressions.

Picasso must have known of the work, because it is incorporated in his painting The Blue Room. Can you spot it below?

picasso_blue-room

Pablo Picasso, The Blue Room, 1901. Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 24 1/4 in. Acquired 1927. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Aritsts Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Photographer Sescau

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

The Photographer Sescau (1896)

Photographer Sescau

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The Photographer Sescau, 1896. Brush, crayon, and spatter lithograph, printed in five colors. Key stone printed in blue, color stones in red, yellow, and green on wove paper, remarque in black, 23 7⁄8 × 31 ½ in. Private Collection

In 1895 and 1896, Toulouse-Lautrec was taking on more projects from contacts outside the entertainment industry. Friend Paul Sescau commissioned this poster to promote his photography studio at 9 place Pigalle. It shows a woman scurrying away from the man behind the camera, alluding to Sescau’s notoriety as a philanderer. Toulouse-Lautrec only used a horizontal orientation for his posters on six occasions.