Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

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photo of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1894; - quote of Lautrec: 'Love is a disease which fills you with a desire to be desired'

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (24 November 18649 September 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draftsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the decadent and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an oeuvre of provocative images of modern life.

Quotes of Toulouse-Lautrec[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Toulouse-Lautrec
Lautrec, 1881: 'The painter René Princeteau in his studio'; - quote of Henri Perruchot about Lautrec: 'In Paris [Summer of 1881].. ..Lautrec found his [older] friend Princeteau. The affection linking the sixteen-year-old cripple to the deaf-mute of thirty-seven was stronger than ever.. .Lautrec called Princeteau his 'master'; Princeteau called Lautrec his 'studio foster-child..'
Lautrec, 1887: 'Young woman at a table / Poudre de riz', painting; - quote of Vincent van Gogh, 1888: 'I don't believe that my Peasant will do any harm, for example, to the Lautrec that you [Theo] have ['Young woman at a table / Poudre de riz'] and I dare even believe that the Lautrec will, by simultaneous contrast, become even more distinguished, and mine will gain from the strange juxtaposition..'
photo of Toulouse-Lautrec, 1889 - painting the portrait of deaf-mute Berta in the Père Forest garden in Montmartre
Lautrect, 1899: 'Femme à l'ombrelle (portrait of deaf-mute Berta)' painting
Lautrec, 1889-90: 'The Dance at Moulin Rouge', painting; - quote of Theo van Gogh, 1889 in a letter to Vincent van Gogh: 'De Lautrec has [exhibited] an excellent portrait of a woman at the piano and a large painting ['Moulin Rouge: The dance'] which holds its own very well. There's a great distinction in it, despite the risqué subject
Lautrec, 1899: 'At the Circus: Free Horses', drawing in crayon

1879-1884[edit]

T-Lautrec, by Henri Perruchot[edit]

Quotes of Toulouse-Lautrec, in T-Lautrec [1], by Henri Perruchot (original publication La Vie de Toulouse-Lautrec', Librairie Hachette, 1958. distribué par Presse-Avenir), transl. Humphrey Hare; The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio & New York, 1960/61

  • I am quite incapable of doing them [making landscapes], even the shadow. My trees look like spinach and my sea like heaven knows what.. ..[the Mediterranean landscape was] the devil to paint, precisely because it is so beautiful.
    • p. 46 - remark to his friend Etienne Devismes - in Nice, 1879
    • young Lautrec comments his own paintings of the landscape, when he was c. 15 years old.
  • I'm very much alone all day, I read a litle but, in the long run, it gives me a headache. I draw and paint as much as I can, indeed till my hand grows tired, and when night begins to fall I hope Jeanne d'Armagnac [his cousin] will come to my bedside. She does sometimes, and cheers me up and plays with me, and I listen to her talk, without daring to look at her. She is so tall and so beautiful! And I am neither tall nor beautiful.
    • p. 53 - written note in Nice, Winter of 1880
    • The previous Summer, at Barèges, while he lay with his leg in plaster, Lautrec had often been visited in the evening by his cousin, Jeanne d'Armagnac
  • I have tried to draw realistically and not ideally.. .It may be a defect, for I have no mercy on warts, and I like adorning them with wanton hairs, rounding them off and giving them a bright surface.. . - A painter in embryo.. ..- Write me a line soon. I am feverish with anxiety.
    • p. 60 - quote in a letter to his friend Etienne Devismes, Summer of 1881
    • his friend Etienne Devismes had just finished a novel 'Cocotte', and asked Lautrec to illustrate it. Lautrec made twenty-three pen and ink drawings and sent them to Devismes with a letter
  • I could never have believed that such kindness existed: to receive my wretched drawings and then thank me into the bargain. And you need not be so scrupulous about my drawings. Just use those you like.. ..But, I am madly, crazily happy at the thought that your prose [Devismes novel 'Cocotte'], like so many fireworks, will frame my daubs, that you should have offered me a helping hand on the arduous road towards getting known...
    • p. 61 - in a letter to his friend Etienne Devismes, Summer of 1881
    • Quote from Lautrec's letter, after he received Devismes' letter full of praise for the 23 illustrations he had sent
  • When my pencil starts moving, it must be allowed its head or - bang! - nothing more happens.
    • p. 61/62 - in a letter to his friend Etienne Devismes, Late Summer of 1881
  • There are two young Englishmen in the next rooms to ours who are superb; their two sisters, looking like umbrellas, are here too, dressed in pink, with a little friend in blue with red hair. She is a type I have tried to draw on horseback but have not succeeded.
    • p. 56 - in a letter, Winter 1881 from Nice, where he stayed with his mother
  • Love is when the desire to be desired takes you so badly, that you feel you could die of it! [And then probably with a fourth sniff as a break] Eh? What? Isn't that so, my dear chap?
    • p. 76
    • according to Henri Perruchot: 'And then - he would make a joke - stuttering and lisping, with a sniff like a laugh at every three words, or some half melancholy comment in his own particular vein'
  • I can't do it, I can't do it. I simply can't help turning a deaf ear to it and banging my head against the wall - yes - and all for an art that escapes me and will never know all the trouble I have taken on its behalf.
    • p. 80 - c. 1882-1883
  • Lautrec was still satisfying his rather classical art-teacher Cormon in Paris. The unreal conventions of Cormon imposed and discouraged him, according to Henri Perruchot

1885-1895[edit]

T-Lautrec, by Henri Perruchot[edit]

Quotes from: T-Lautrec, by Henri Perruchot (original publication La Vie de Toulouse-Lautrec', Librairie Hachette, 1958. distribué par Presse-Avenir), transl. Humphrey Hare; The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio & New York, 1960/61

  • The Mirlitons in the Place Vendôme, opposite the column! What a crush! A lot of people, a lot of women, and a lot of nonsense! It's a crush made up of gloved hands manipulating tortoiseshell or gold lorgnettes; but it's a crush all the same!
    • p. 83 - from a note of his impressions
    • Lautrec visited in the Spring of 1885 several exhibitions in Paris, he made a note of his impressions. His spontaneous criticisms were irreverent, with a certain irony. 'Le Mirliton', a Paris cabaret, was opened in 1885 by Aristide Bruant

1896-1901[edit]

  • Le vieux con!
  • The old fool!
    • Last words, quoted in: Art News Annual, Vol. 20, (1951), p. 82

undated quotes[edit]

  • I have always been a pencil.
    • Quoted in: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, ‎Riva Castleman, ‎Wolfgang Wittrock (1985) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: images of the 1890's . p. 44
  • Love is a disease which fills you with a desire to be desired.
    • Quoted in: Peter McWilliams (1997) Love 101: To Love Oneself Is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance. p. 23
  • I paint things as they are. I don't comment. I record.
    • Quoted in: Henry O. Dormann (2009) The Speaker's Book of Quotations, Updated and Revised. p. 26

Quotes about Henri Toulouse-Lautrec[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Here's a short note for Bernard and Lautrec, to whom I'd solemnly promised to write.1 I'm sending it to you [Theo van Gogh, in Paris] so that you can give it to them sometime, it's not in the least urgent and it will be a reason for you to see what they're doing and to hear what they're saying, if you want.
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to brother Theo, from Arles, Wednesday, 21 or Thursday, 22 March 1888; from letter 588; vangoghletters online - van Goghmuseum.
    • the adjusted letter of Vincent to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is unknown; this is the only time that Van Gogh refers to writing to Toulouse-Lautrec; there is no mention of any reply.
  • I don't believe that my peasant [his painting 'Portrait of a peasant'] will do any harm, for example, to the Lautrec that you [Theo] have ['Young woman at a table / Poudre de riz', 1887] and I dare even believe that the Lautrec will, by simultaneous contrast, become even more distinguished, and mine will gain from the strange juxtaposition, because the sunlit and burnt, weather-beaten quality of the strong sun and strong air will show up more clearly beside the face powder and stylish outfit. What a mistake that Parisians haven't acquired sufficient taste for rough things..
    • Quote of Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to brother Theo, from Arles, Saturday, 18 August 1888; from letter 663; vangoghletters online - van Goghmuseum.
  • As far as Lautrec is concerned, I believe the truest reason is that Lautrec thinks of one thing only, that's himself and not the others. So it's probable that these gentlemen will have judged it preferable to do the same, i.e., to manage without him.
    • Quote of Theo van Gogh aan Vincent, Paris, Sunday, 16 June 1889; as quoted in letter 781; vangoghletters online, van Goghmuseum.
  • De Lautrec has an excellent portrait of a woman at the piano ['Mademoiselle Dihau at the piano, 1890'] and a large painting ['At the Moulin Rouge: The dance'] which holds its own very well. There's a great distinction in it, despite the risqué subject.
    • Quote of Theo van Gogh to Vincent, Paris, 19 March 1890; as quoted in letter 858; vangoghletters online, van Goghmuseum.
    • Lautrec was exhibiting then at the Independents' exhibition in Paris of 1890, with many other artists
  • In Paris [Summer of 1881].. ..Lautrec found 'with wild joy' his [older] friend Princeteau. The affection linking the sixteen-year-old cripple to the deaf-mute of thirty-seven was stronger than ever. Their respective infirmities served to increase their friendship, They saw each other every day. Lautrec called Princeteau his 'master'; Princeteau called Lautrec his 'studio foster-child.' Indeed, Lautrec imitated him 'like a monkey.' He copied his methods, his brushwork and his technique which had both solidity and fluency and was much concerned with the management of light.
    • Quote of Henri Perruchot, in T-Lautrec, transl. Humphrey Hare; The World Publishing Company, Cleveland, Ohio, 1960/61, p. 56-57

External links[edit]

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