Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (November 24, 1864 – September 9, 1901) was a French painter.

Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Albi, Tarn in the Midi-Pyrenees Region of France. From an old aristocratic family which had lost much of its prestige, he was the son of Comte Alphonse and Comtesse Adele de Toulouse-Lautrec, and their only child. At age 12, Lautrec broke his left leg, and at 14 his right leg, and because of a genetic disorder which prevented his bones from healing properly, his legs ceased to grow. He reached maturity with a body trunk of normal size but with abnormally short legs. He was only 4 1/2 feet (1.5 meters) tall.

La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge. (1892)Unable to participate in activities a normal body would have permitted, Toulouse-Lautrec lived for his art. He became an important post-impressionist painter, art nouveau illustrator, and lithographer, and recorded the bohemian lifestyle of Paris at the end of the 19th century. In the mid-1890s, Toulouse-Lautrec contributed illustrations to the humorous magazine, Le Rire.

He was deemed "the soul of Montmartre", the Parisian quarter where he made his home. His paintings portray life at the Moulin Rouge and other Montmartre and Parisian cabarets and theaters, and in the brothels that he frequented regularly (and where he perhaps contracted syphilis). Two of the well-known people he portrayed were singer Yvette Guilbert, and Louise Weber, known as the outrageous La Goulue, a dancer who created the "French Can-Can."

Toulouse-Lautrec taught painting to Suzanne Valadon, one of his models, and encouraged her efforts.

An alcoholic for most of his adult life, shortly before his death he entered a sanatorium.

He died at the family estate in Malrome and is buried in Verdelais, Gironde, a few miles from his birthplace.

His last words were "Old fool" in reference to his father who was there when he died.

Before 2005, his paintings sold for as much as $14.5 million.