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The gallery will be closed Monday, 5/27 for Memorial Day
The gallery will be closed Monday, 5/27 for Memorial Day

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec "Woman in Bed, Profile" Lithograph


"Femme au lit, profil - Au le petit lever. (Pl. Of the suite Elles)," a lithograph of great intrigue and complexity by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. We now know this dynamic piece to be a dual portrait of two of Lautrec's favorite models, the "clownesse" and noted performer Cha-U-Kao, who performed at the Moulin Rouge and Cirque Nouveau, and the dancer known as Gabrielle, the two of whom happen to have been lovers. Minimally defined, the two female forms appear ethereally in tones of white, engaged in a moving contemplation of one another that leaves the viewer with the sense that they are intruding on a deeply personal and tender moment. The picture plane is divided into three major subsects upon which the two figures are superimposed, demonstrating the influence of Kitagawa Utamaro’s woodblock prints, The twelve hours in the Yoshiwara, in which the Japanese artist depicted the daily existence of prostitutes in Tokyo, and which greatly inspired the French artist.


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  • Curator's Notes

Item #: ML-20136
Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 
Circa: 1896
Country: France 
Dimensions: 15.5" height, 20.25" width (Framed 23.75" height, 28.5" width)
Materials: Lithograph paper, Giltwood gesso frame
Signature: "G. Pellet" and "T. Lautrec" numbered (83) in pencil by the publisher G. Pellet then stamped by him (Lugt 1193). Edition of 100 proofs.
Literature: Delteil 187; Wittrock 163

We know little about Cha-U-Kao outside of her life as it was depicted by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, her background, and even her real name are shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that she was real, and that Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was both fascinated by and very much in reverence of the female performer's bold choice in becoming a female "clowness," an anomaly in an otherwise male dominated role, and her openness in regards to her sexual orientation.