Troupe De Mlle. Eglantine

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Troupe De Mlle. Eglantine

An original Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Lithograph print.


Original lithograph printed in three colors (yellow, red, blue) on wove poster paper.

Signed on the stone with the artist’s script signature and monogram device lower left.

A fine impression of Wittrock’s state C (of D), Adriani’s third and final state, printed after the addition of the poster text to the red stone. Commissioned by Jane Avril; distributed by Edmond-Honoré Sagot.

Catalog: Delteil 361; Adhémer 198; Wittrock P21C; Adriani 162 iii/iii.

24 1/4 x 31 1/2 inches

This poster, one of the last to have been completed by the artist, is an interesting document of the era in which it was produced. It was commissioned by Eglantine Demay and one of Lautrec’s favorite subjects, Jane Avril, to advertise the performance of Demay’s dance troupe at the Palace Theatre in London. The fact that they had been booked to perform the Quadrille Naturaliste (a can-can style dance created by Celeste Mogador which was performed in a line formation of four) is testament to the spreading international popularity of the bawdy Parisian dance styles of the period, then considered to be quite risqué because of their exposure of legs and petticoats and even skin. Now that nightclub patrons in cities other than Paris were demanding such performances, no longer was the can-can to be the exclusive property of cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge, the Jardin de Paris, the Frascati and the Elysée Montmartre.

In the image are seen the four dancers (Eglantine [“Wild Rose”], Avril, Cléopatre and Gazelle) in the same formation in which they would perform. Though it was one of Lautrec’s last poster images, it is one that is known to have influenced many young artists. Picasso is known to have had an impression of the poster hanging in his Montmartre studio. George Braque once stated that as a young boy he laid in wait watching a copy being posted on a Le Havre wall by a bill-sticker, waiting for the opportunity to unglue the poster so that he could paste it to the wall of his own room.

The composition is a lively yellow and red, punctuated by red-brown legs stirring petticoats into a calligraphic froth. Although Lautrec made a preparatory oil sketch for the poster, he actually based the poster on a photograph. From both photograph and sketch he extracted the simplified lines of the poster, but maintained the sharp characterization of each dancer. Evidently jealousies divided the dancers into two camps, Avril and Eglantine against Cléopatra and Gazelle, and Lautrec seems to have enjoyed choreographing their squabble.