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

A Print in Eight Parts

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.

Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender_Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mademoiselle Marcelle Lender, Half-length, 1895. Crayon, brush, and spatter lithograph, printed in eight colors. Key stone printed in olive green, color stones in yellow, red, dark pink, turquoise-green, blue, gray, and yellow-green on wove paper. State IV/IV, 12 15⁄16 × 9 5⁄8 in. Private collection

Marcelle Lender found fame as Galswinthe in Hervé’s operetta Chilpéric, revived by the Théâtre de Variétés in 1895. Toulouse-Lautrec attended 20 performances, making sketches from the audience. He immortalized the red-headed actress in the painting Marcelle Lender Dancing the Bolero in Chilpéric and in 13 prints. After developing sketches and trial proofs for this lithograph, Toulouse-Lautrec worked closely with master printer Henri Stern at Ancourt to manage its production in four editions. Printed in eight colors from eight separate stones, it stands as proof of Toulouse-Lautrec’s mastery of lithography. Its fourth state, seen here, was reproduced in the influential German art magazine Pan. Its reference to performance, make-up, costumes, and stylish coiffures shows the influence of Japanese prints like Moatside Prostitute by Utamaro.