Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril: Beyond the Moulin Rouge

22 June 2011

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Jane Avril au Jardin de Paris, 1893 © Museum of Modern Art, New York

I’m really excited about this latest exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery in London! I’m not a big fan of the Impressionists to be honest, but there’s something about Toulouse-Lautrec’s scenes of the brittle, glittering underbelly of fashionable 1890’s Parisian life that I find absolutely irresistible.

Nicknamed La Mélinite after a powerful form of explosive, the dancer Jane Avril was one of the stars of the Moulin Rouge.  Her fame was assured by a series of dazzlingly inventive posters designed by the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Jane Avril became an emblematic figure in Lautrec’s world of dancers, cabaret singers, musicians and prostitutes. This landmark exhibition is the first to celebrate this remarkable creative partnership which has to come to define the world of the Moulin Rouge. Bringing together Toulouse-Lautrec’s most famous paintings, posters and prints from international collections, it captures the excitement and spectacle of bohemian Paris in the 1890s.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine, 1896 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition is on now at the Courtauld Gallery and is running until the 18th of September. There’s also some special ‘late’ events featuring French food, music, performances and talks, which I am hoping to attend – admission is free if you come along in a Moulin Rouge inspired outfit!

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