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The seamy underside of the Parisian demimonde, populated by the singers, dancers, and patrons of Montmartre nightclubs was Toulouse–Lautrec's principal subject. Scion of one of France's great aristocratic families, Lautrec suffered physical maladies and stunted growth due to genetic factors. He was encouraged to draw during his long convalescences and permitted professional training in an academic studio, which he deserted to embrace modernism. Lautrec particularly admired Degas and emulated his unusual perspectives and gritty social realism. He mastered the new medium of color lithography and produced an impressive body of posters and printed illustrations that share the incisive linear quality of the design of this painting.

Isolated by his painful physical deformity, Lautrec became an alcoholic and a denizen of dance halls and nightclubs in Montmartre, a poor working–class neighborhood untouched by Baron Haussmann's renovations of Paris. Insight gained from his handicap and his emotional remoteness from his subjects gave his depictions special force, bitterness, and sympathy, while the artifice of his preferred settings and subjects could alter reality amusingly or grotesquely in his work. Lautrec was an observer, a voyeur rather than a participant, and alienation is endemic even in the crowded Corner of the Moulin de la Galette.

Details

  • Title: A Corner of the Moulin de la Galette
  • Date Created: 1892
  • Physical Dimensions: w892 x h1000 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Chester Dale Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on cardboard
  • Theme: genre, taverns/cafes/inns
  • School: French
  • Provenance: François Depeaux [1853 1920], Rouen; (his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, 31 May 1 June 1906, no. 74, as Intérieur de cabaret); purchased by (Durand Ruel)[1] probably for Otto Gerstenberg [1848 1935], Berlin; by inheritance to his daughter, Margarethe Scharf; sold 1951 to (Carstairs Gallery, New York);[2] sold 20 March 1951 to Chester Dale [1883 1962], New York;[3] bequest 1963 to NGA. [1] Annotated sales catalogue, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (copy in NGA curatorial files). [2] Gerstenberg's great granddaughter, Julietta Scharf, kindly shared information about her family's ownership of the painting in e mails of 20 October and 5 November 2009 (in NGA curatorial files). Documentation from her grandmother, Margarethe Scharf, indicates that Otto Gerstenberg acquired the painting at the 1906 sale, and that Margarethe inherited the painting on her father's death. After Margarethe lent the painting to an exhibition at the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen in 1936, the director of that museum offered to store it for her during World War II. After the war, Margarethe asked the director to arrange for it to be sold. See also Thomas W. Gaehtgens and Julietta Scharf, "Die Sammlung Otto Gerstenberg in Berlin," in Die Moderne und ihre Sammler: Französische Kunst in Deutschem Privatbesitz vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik, Andrea Pophanken and Felix Billeter, eds., Berlin, 2001: 183. Incorrectly, M.G. Dortu, Toulouse Lautrec et son oeuvre, 6 vols., New York, 1971: 2:262, does not include Gerstenberg in his provenance for the painting. [3] Chester Dale papers, in NGA curatorial files.
  • Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

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