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    Sale 7599

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    24 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 7

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

    Deux femmes valsant

    Price Realised  


    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
    Deux femmes valsant
    signed 'HT Lautrec' (lower right)
    oil on board
    23 5/8 x 15½ in. (60 x 39.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1894

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    Executed in 1894, Deux femmes valsant dates from one of the great highpoints of the life and artistic career of an artist often considered to epitomise the values, or lack thereof, in late Nineteenth Century Paris. A legendary figure in his own right, Toulouse-Lautrec's decadence and immersion in the demi-monde of the French capital reached an apogee in 1894, a year which he spent largely living in brothels, visiting bars, theatres, cafés and cabarets, and documenting the range of characters, both on and off the stage, whom he encountered and often befriended. During this period, prompted by his thirst for life, his almost physical need to paint and his fascination with his surroundings, Toulouse-Lautrec created masterpiece after masterpiece on paper and on canvas, capturing the world around him with an unbridled vitality. And it is in works such as Deux femmes valsant that one truly has the impression that the artist was capturing a scene that was unfolding before him, crystallising a single moment in a corner of Paris.

    The theme of lesbianism, a source of fascination for many of Toulouse-Lautrec's contemporaries, and a source of poignant social taboo to those members of the bourgeoisie that he so enjoyed taunting, appeared in many works from this period. This was, in part, a reflection of some of the people by whom the painter was surrounded, and in part, a reflection of the air of easy intimacy between the girls in the brothels in which he was spending so much time. Deux femmes valsant, though, like the painting of the same title, appears to show women at a tea-dance, such as were held in many of the places the artist frequented. Are these women lovers, or is it the viewer's association with Toulouse-Lautrec's espousal of the disenfranchised of his age that leads to that reading? This ambiguity appears to be a deliberate ploy on the part of the artist, making the picture all the more of a riddle, and all the more engaging and absorbing as an insight into both his life and those of the two dancing women.

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    Galerie Raphaël Gérard, Paris.
    Gaston Bernheim-Jeune (known as Gaston Bernheim de Villers), Paris.
    Alfred Schwabacher, New York.
    Mr John P. Natanson, New York.
    Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York.
    Acquired from the above, through the agency of James Kirkman Ltd., London, in November 1978.

    Pre-Lot Text



    M. Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901, Peintre, vol. I, Paris, 1926, p. 281.
    J. Galtier-Boissière, Le Crapouillot, Paris, May 1931 (illustrated p. 37).
    G. Mack, Toulouse-Lautrec, New York, 1938, p. 251.
    M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, catalogue raisonné, vol. III, New York, 1971, no. P.528, p. 326 (illustrated p. 327).
    Collection des Maîtres, Paris, c. 1950 (illustrated p. 40).
    J. Lassaigne, Toulouse-Lautrec, New York, 1946 (illustrated p. 100).


    Paris, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Exposition rétrospective de l'oeuvre de Toulouse-Lautrec, June - July 1914, no. 28.
    Philadelphia, Museum of Art, Toulouse-Lautrec, October - December 1955, no. 48 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Chicago, Art Institute, January - February 1956.
    New York, Museum of Modern Art, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, Drawings, Posters and Lithographs, March - May 1956, no. 30.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections, July - August 1966 (titled 'Two Friends').