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Collection Nathan, Paris.
Jean Davray, Paris.
Antoine Nikles, Genève.
Acquis auprès de celui-ci par Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé, janvier 1986.
F. Jourdain et J. Adhémar, T-Lautrec: Essai sur Toulouse-Lautrec. Lautrec, peintre-graveur, Paris, 1952, p. 50.
T. Charpentier, "Quelques lettres et un dessin inédit de Toulouse-Lautrec conservés au Musée Lorrain", in Annales de l'Est, 5e série, 13e année, no. 3, 1962, p. 216.
M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York, 1971, vol. III, p. 344, no. P.561 (illustré, p. 345).
C. Frèches-Thory, Toulouse-Lautrec, catalogue d'exposition, Londres, Hayward Gallery, 1991, p. 396.
"Les chefs-d'oeuvre de la collection Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Bergé", in Connaissance des Arts, h.s., no. 271, janvier 2006 (illustré en couleur).
Post Lot Text
'THE BULL-FIGHT'; SIGNED WITH MONOGRAM LOWER LEFT; OIL ON BOARD.
La Tauromachie, painted by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 1894, is a preparatory study for the cover of a collection of etchings by Francisco de Goya entitled Goya - La Taureaumachie ([sic]; fig. 1). The cover was produced in 1894 in a leather inlay by the master binder from Nancy, René Wiéner, and was included in the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs at Nancy, east of France, in the same year, and most likely at the Salon du Champ-de-Mars in Paris the following year.
This rare involvement of Toulouse-Lautrec in covers for artistic publications was encouraged by the influential critic of the time, Claude Roger-Marx, a great admirer of the artist, who was also interested in the revival of a discipline associated with the decorative arts1. A great admirer of Francisco de Goya and doubtless aware of the critical, and even cynical, eye that the Spanish painter cast on the human condition much like himself, Toulouse-Lautrec willingly agreed to work on this project. He had already produced a lithograph illustration for another collection of the Spanish master's etchings, Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War; 1893), and he was also fascinated by bullfights, having attended a number of them at the bullring on the rue Pergolèse.
To decorate this cover, the artist employed a symbolist vocabulary to evoke the tragic world of the bullfight, and its omnipresent shadow of death. Rather than representing the action of the bullfight, Toulouse-Lautrec depicted two skulls -- with that of the bullfighter macabrely still donning its wig -- visually linked by the diagonal red line created by the bullfighter's cape and sword. The dramatic tension of this composition immerses the viewer in a fight to the death. The symbolism of this clear allegory for death is reminiscent of the vanitas genre so beloved by the great Flemish masters of the 17th century. A unique example of the spontaneous genius of Toulouse-Lautrec and his great pictorial freedom, this work also reaffirms that he was one of the most brilliant and innovative Parisian poster artists of the Belle Epoque.
1 T. Charpentier, "Un aspect peu connu de l'activité de Lautrec: sa collaboration à la reliure d'art", in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, September 1960, pp. 165-177.