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    Sale 2256

    The Modern Age: The Hillman Family Collection

    5 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 26

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)

    Portrait de Henri Nocq

    Price Realised  


    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
    Portrait de Henri Nocq
    signed and dated 'HT Lautrec 97' (lower right)
    peinture à l'essence on board down on cradled panel
    25 1/8 x 19 in. (63.9 x 48.2 cm.)
    Painted in 1897

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    Although Toulouse-Lautrec is justly celebrated for his paintings, prints, and posters chronicling the myriad entertainments of fin-de-siècle Montmartre, from the circus and the café-concert to the dance-hall and the brothel, he was recognized equally by his contemporaries as an impresario of the portrait. His first teacher, Léon Bonnat, was best known as a portrait painter, and Lautrec himself described his important one-man exhibition at the Goupil Gallery in London in 1898 as "Portraits and Other Works". Indeed, portraits--whether painted, drawn, or printed--dominate Lautrec's oeuvre, with some forty percent of his artistic output falling into this category (in exh. cat., op. cit., London, 1991, p. 133). Anne Roquebert has written, "Lautrec displayed the same skills in his portraits as he did in his scenes from everyday life: an exceptional capacity to capture the essential nature of his models, to portray them naturally, and an ability continually to bring something new to his compositions" (ibid., pp. 136-137). Richard Thomson, likewise, has asserted, "[Lautrec's] shrewd psychological analyses of the denizens of Montmartre, and his intricate, humorous, and ambiguous ways of weaving them into the discourse of the day, remain remarkable social and artistic documents" (in exh. cat., op. cit. , Washington, D.C., 2005, p. 70).

    The subject of the present portrait, Henri Nocq, was a Belgian artist and craftsman, known especially for his jewelry and engraved medals. He and Lautrec were acquainted by 1896, when Lautrec wrote to him about his theories on art: "We could summarize the following desideratum: Fewer artists and more good workers. In a word: more craft" (quoted in ibid., p. 273). In the same year, Nocq published a book of interviews on the applied arts, to which Lautrec contributed a letter admiring the work of William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement in England in the 1860s, and Jules Chéret, one of the most famous Parisian poster designers of Lautrec's day. Nocq also appeared in an 1896 poster by Lautrec entitled L'artisan moderne, a parody of rococo images of the doctor's visit which depicts Nocq--identified as a craftsman by his worker's smock, hammer, and tool kit--visiting a bedridden woman to cure her of lovesickness (Wittrock, no. P24a; fig. 1). Both Nocq and Lautrec portrayed the Montmartrois café-concert star Yvette Guilbert, Nocq in a polychrome ceramic medallion dated 1893, Lautrec in two celebrated albums of lithographs from 1894 and 1898 (Wittrock, nos. 69-85, 271-279), as well as numerous gouaches and drawings.

    Painted in 1897 in Lautrec's studio at 27 rue Caulaincourt, Portrait de Henri Nocq is the last in an important series of standing male portraits that the artist made over the course of his career. The paintings all depict well-to-do bourgeois men, frequently Lautrec's own friends; in contrast, the women whom Lautrec painted were usually young, working-class, and often demimondaine. The men are represented in a full-length format indebted to Whistler, Forain, Manet, and Degas (e.g; fig. 2). They wear elegant garb (in the case of Nocq, a formal black cape and top hat) and exude the nonchalant, self-assured demeanor of the urban dandy. Richard Thomson has written, "In all these portraits Lautrec's friends read as individuals when one knows their names and as types if not. Each one could stand for the boulevardier: masculine, prosperous, sexually independent, attuned to the modern world" (ibid., p. 68). Elsewhere, Thomson has explained, "Almost inevitably his male figures are represented as men of the world Portraits such as those of Dr. Bourges, Paul Sescau, Louis Pascal, and Gaston Bonnefoy, despite showing the men in Lautrec's studio, firmly imply, by overcoats, top-hats and open doors, that these men belong in the outside world. Their canes and costumes, their confident postures, and purposeful expressions, present them as cocksure, confident of their class positions; they have something of the swagger of the cavaliers of Meissonier, an artist proud of his aggressively masculine imagery and for whom Lautrec apparently had some respect" (in exh. cat., op. cit., London, 1991, p. 16).

    The earliest in the series of standing male portraits dates to 1886-1887 and depicts François Gauzi, a painter whom Lautrec had met in the studio of Fernand Cormon at the école des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse (Dortu, no. P.297; Musée des Augustins, Toulouse). In 1891, Lautrec explored the type in earnest, producing a group of at least five standing male portraits, three of which he included in the Salon des Indépendants that year. The 1891 paintings depict the poet Georges-Henri Manuel (Dortu, no. P.377; Bührle Foundation, Zurich), the photographer Paul Sescau (Dortu, no. P.383; fig. 3), and three of Lautrec's closest childhood friends: Henri Bourges (Dortu, no. P.376; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh), Gaston Bonnefoy (Dortu, no. P.410; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid), and Louis Pascal (Dortu, no. P.467; fig. 4). When the Sescau portrait was exhibited at the Salon des Arts Libéraux in June of 1891, Félix Fénéon remarked in his review, "M. de Toulouse-Lautrec elucidates the physiognomy of the old damards [dandies]" (quoted in ibid., p. 154). After concentrating for several years on personalities from the theater, Lautrec returned to the portrait proper in 1895-1898. In addition to the portrait of Nocq, he painted the critic Tristan Bernard (Dortu, no. P.571; private collection), the artist Maxime Dethomas (Dortu, no. P.628; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), and the photographer Paul Leclercq (Dortu, no. P.645; fig. 5), among others. Roquebert has described this group of paintings as "more accomplished and less spontaneous than the early portraits" and has concluded, "These late works betray the hard work that has gone into them" (ibid., p. 137).

    The portrait of Nocq is no exception. It depicts the Belgian craftsman standing in Lautrec's studio before a mural-sized canvas from 1895-1896 that depicts the singer and actress Marcelle Lender dancing the final bolero in the farcical operetta Chilpéric (Dortu, no. P.627; fig. 5). Florence Coman has called the Chilpéric painting "the most monumental and important of [Lautrec's] theatrical subjects" (in op. cit., p. xxx), while Mary Weaver Chapin has described it as "a magnificent testimony to his career of painting Parisian celebrities" (in exh. cat., op. cit., Washington, D.C., 2005, p. 142). Lautrec was captivated by Lender's performance in Chilpéric, which he attended every few days during its three-month run. The artist's friend Romain Coolus left an eyewitness account of this obsession: "In the winter [of 1895] he compelled me to accompany him twenty times to the Théâtre des Variétés to attend performances of Chilpéric by Hervé, which had just been revived. The beautiful Marcelle Lender played an important role, and she was dressed, or rather undressed, in such a fashion that every muscle of her back could be scrutinized by opera glasses. A bit tired of hearing the famous chorus for the sixth time, I asked Lautrec the reason he insisted on my regularly accompanying him to hear such obvious gush. 'I come strictly in order to see Lender's back,' he said. 'Look at it carefully; you seldom see anything so magnificent'" (quoted in F. Coman, op. cit., p. xxx). Lender did not reciprocate Lautrec's admiration, however, and reportedly refused the gift of the painting, which remained in the artist's studio until his death.

    The inclusion of the Chilpéric canvas in the portrait of Nocq represents a central element in Lautrec's characterization of his sitter. Lautrec depicts Nocq in a pose that explicitly echoes that of the lecherous Don Nervoso at the right of Chilpéric, leaning forward with his hands on his hips and his feet planted wide. Charles Stuckey has proposed that Lautrec intended the similar stances of dancer and dandy to draw a parallel between the poses and costumes of modern life and those of the theater (in exh. cat., op. cit., Chicago, 1979, p. 269), and indeed, the sharply receding wooden floorboards of the room that Nocq occupies may be seen to imitate the tilt of a steeply raked stage. Nocq's stance, however, also lends the painting an inescapably acerbic note. His hunched posture appears awkward and obsequious, and the cape distorts his size, creating an unflattering silhouette. In a study for the painting, by contrast, Nocq is shown in a more elegant pose, standing erect and frontal against a blank wall (Dortu, no. P.638; private collection). Kermit Champa has written about the final version, "Dwarfed by his spreading cape amidst the chaos of Lautrec's atelier, the flâneur pose of dandyism is stripped of its elegant self-confidence and appears artificial, even a little foolish" (in exh. cat., op. cit., New York, 1965, p. 84).

    Although he kept it in his possession for at least three decades, Nocq is said to have found the final portrait "merciless" and "spiteful in the extreme" (quoted in P. de Lapparent, op. cit., 1928, p. 37; H. Perruchot, op. cit., 1960, p. 234). Indeed, the painting of Nocq, with its mordant undertones, makes it easy to see why Lautrec's portraits have so often been described in terms of caricature. Thomson has identified a caricatural vision as "one of the central currents of Lautrec's work," citing "his exaggeration of features and gestures, his aversion to the comme il faut, his ironic view of the modern metropolis" (in exh. cat., op. cit., London, 1991, p. 174). Critics in Lautrec's day also commented on the artist's acute vision and acerbic wit. In a review of Lautrec's one-man exhibition at the Galerie Manzi-Joyant in Paris in 1896, for example, Gustave Geffroy wrote, "In Lautrec there is an innate caricatural sense which it would be a shame to restrain, because it is rich in justified revelations of social pretensions and moral defects" (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., Washington, D.C., 2005, p. 18).

    Portrait de Henri Nocq is not the only portrait by Lautrec to employ the device of a painting-within-a-painting to powerful effect. In 1897, the same year that Nocq posed for him, Lautrec represented the poet Paul Leclercq seated in front of Conquête de passage, a scene of a man watching while a woman fastens her corset (Dortu, no. P.645; fig. 6). Thomson has proposed that the inclusion of this particular painting in the Leclercq portrait was a means of underscoring the heterosexual bond between artist and sitter (in exh. cat., op. cit., Washington, D.C., 2005, p. 68). Likewise, an 1891 pastel depicts the poet Georges-Henri Manuel beside an early portrait by Lautrec of a model named Jeanne (Dortu, no. P.378; sold, Christie's, New York, 6 May 1998, lot 173). Manuel and Jeanne are both shown seated, facing one another in full profile, suggesting a confrontation between two paradigms in the typology of modern Paris, the bourgeois man and the working-class woman (or potential client and commodity).

    (fig. 1) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, L'artisan moderne, 1896. Sold, Christie's, New York, 1 May 2007, lot 436. BARCODE 25463637

    (fig. 2) Edgar Degas, Portrait sur la scène (Halévy et Boulanger-Cavé l'Opéra), 1879. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. BARCODE 25995442

    (fig. 3) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Sescau, 1891. Brooklyn Museum.BARCODE 25995503

    (fig. 4) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Louis Pascal, 1891. Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi. BARCODE 25995534

    (fig. 5) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marcelle Lender dansant le pas du bolero dans "Chilpéric", 1895-1896. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. BARCODE 25995527

    (fig. 6) Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Leclercq, 1897. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. BARCODE 25995510


    Henri Nocq, Paris (acquired from the artist and until at least 1926).
    Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York (by 1946).
    Alex and Rita K. Hillman, New York (acquired from the above, 9 April 1951).
    Gift from the above to the present owner, 16 October 1968.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation


    G. Coquiot, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1913, p. 188 (illustrated, p. 189).
    T. Duret, Lautrec, Paris, 1920, pp. 54-55.
    G. Coquiot, Lautrec, Paris, 1921, pp. 121-122 and 125.
    A. Astre, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1925, p. 82.
    M. Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec I, Paris, 1926, pp. 200 and 295 (illustrated, p. 222).
    M. Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901, II, Paris, 1926, p. 63.
    M. Joyant, 'Toulouse-Lautrec,' in L'Art et les artistes, February 1927, p. 155 (illustrated, p. 154).
    P. de Lapparent, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1927, p. 34.
    P. de Lapparent, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1928, p. 37.
    P. MacOrlan, Lautrec, Paris, 1934, p. 119.
    E. Schaub Koch, Psychoanalyse d'un peintre moderne, Paris, 1935, p. 212.
    G. Mack, Toulouse-Lautrec, New York, 1938, p. 270.
    J. Lassaigne, Toulouse-Lautrec, London, 1939, p. 167 (illustrated, p. 119).
    Town and Country, November 1946, p. 110 (illustrated in color).
    M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1952, p. 9 (illustrated).
    F. Jourdain and J. Adhémar, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1952, p. 102.
    J. Lassaigne, Le Goût de notre temps- Lautrec, Geneva, 1953, p. 100.
    M.G. Dortu; M. Grillaert and J. Adhémar, Toulouse-Lautrec en Belgique, Paris, 1955, p. 19.
    'Toulouse-Lautrec in New York,' in Pictures on Exhibit, April 1956, p. 7 (illustrated).
    L. King, 'Lautrec Exhibit Rounds out Season for Four Arts Society,' in The Palm Beach Post, 16 March 1957.
    H. Perruchot, La vie de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paris, 1958, pp. 254 and 283.
    H. Perruchot, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cleveland and New York, 1960, p. 234.
    H.L.F., 'Alex L. Hillman: Courbet to Dubuffet,' in Art News, October 1959, p. 31 (illustrated in color).
    D. Sutton, Lautrec, London, 1962, p. 21.
    J. Adhémar, Toulouse-Lautrec: His Complete Lithographs and Drypoints, New York, 1965, p. xxi.
    M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, New York, 1971, p. 390, no. P.639 (illustrated, p. 391).
    P. Callegari, La vita e l'arte di Toulouse-Lautrec, Milan, 1973, p. 132 (illustrated in color).
    G.M. Sugana and D. Sutton, The Complete Paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec, London, 1973, p. 116, no. 469a (illustrated, p. 117).
    G. Caproni, L'opera completa di Toulouse-Lautrec, Milan, 1977, p. 116, no. 469a (illustrated, p. 117).
    G. Reynolds, Giovanni Boldini and Society Portraiture 1880-1920, exh. cat., Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York, 1984, p. 14 (illustrated).
    Exh. cat., Toulouse-Lautrec, Hayward Gallery, London, 1991, p. 170 (illustrated; incorrectly credited to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano).
    E. Braun, Manet to Matisse: The Hillman Family Collection, Seattle and London, 1994, p. 178, no. 69 (illustrated in color, p. 179).
    F. Coman, Toulouse Lautrec: Marcelle Lender in Chilpéric, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1994, fig. 8.


    Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1902, no. 94.
    Paris, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Exposition restrospective de l'oeuvre de H. de Toulouse-Lautrec, June-July 1914, no. 78.
    Paris, Musée des arts décoratif, Palais du Louvre, April-May 1931, p. 52, no. 160.
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., A Loan Exhibition of Toulouse-Lautrec for the Benefit of the Goddard Neighborhood Center, October-November 1946, p. 36, no. 31 (illustrated, p. 41).
    Pittsburgh, The Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Posters by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901, March-April 1947, p. 14, no. 24 (illustrated).
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Ltd., Summer Exhibition, 1947, no. 23. New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., French Portraits of the Nineteenth Century, Summer 1948, no. 16.
    New Orleans, Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, Masterpieces of French Painting Through Five Centuries 1400-1900, in Honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Louisana Purchase, October 1953-January 1954, p. 52, no. 79 (illustrated).
    Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, Toulouse-Lautrec, October 1955-Febraury 1956, no. 69 (illustrated). New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, Drawings, Posters and Lithographs, March-May 1956, p. 46, no. 41 (illustrated, p. 25).
    Palm Beach, The Society of the Four Arts, Paintings and Prints by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, 1864-1901, March-April 1957, no. 78.
    Los Angeles Municipal Museum of Art, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, May-June 1959, no. 15 (illustrated).
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., and Waltham, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Modern French Painting, April-June 1962, no. 64 (illustrated).
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Toulouse-Lautrec, February-March 1964, no. 46 (illustrated).
    Albi, Palais de la Berbie and Paris, Petit Palais, Centenaire de Toulouse-Lautrec, June-December 1964, p. 83, no. 71 (illustrated, p. 85).
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Olympia's Progeny, for the Benefit of the Association for Mentally Ill Children, October-November 1965, p. 84 (illustrated in color, p. 85).
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Summer Loan Exhibition: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from Private Collections, Summer 1966, p. 16, no. 179.
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., One Hundred Years of Impressionism: A Tribute to Durand-Ruel, for the Benefit of the New York University Art Collection, April-May 1970, no. 89 (illustrated). Bronx Museum of the Arts, Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, April-May 1972.
    New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Faces from the World of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, November-December 1972, no. 67 (illustrated).
    Jacksonville Art Museum and Corpus Christi, Art Museum of South Texas, The Alex Hillman Collection, October 1972-January 1974, no. 12 (illustrated).
    Phoenix Art Museum, Selections from the Aelx Hillman Collection, January-February 1975.
    Chicago, The Smart Gallery, University of Chicago, Five Works by Modern French Painters from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, October-December 1975.
    Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts, Modern Masters: Paintings and Drawings from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, December 1977-Febraury 1978, no. 13 (illustrated).
    The Art Institute of Chicago, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, October-December 1979, pp. 268-269, no. 85 (illustrated).
    Austin, University of Texas; Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Museum of Art; Hunstville Museum of Art; St. Petersburg, Museum of Fine Arts; Lawrence, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas; Huntington Gallery; Little Rock, Arkansas Art Center; Williamsburg, Joseph and Margaret Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary and Ames, Brunnier Gallery and Museum, Iowa State University, Selections from the Collection of the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, January 1979-November 1985.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Exhibition of Works from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation, February 1986-Janaury 1987.
    The Brooklyn Museum, Modern Masters: French Art from the Alex Hillman Family Foundation Collection, June-August 1988.
    Boston, Museum of Fine Arts and New York, IBM Gallery of Sciene and Art, Pleasures of Paris: Daumier to Picasso, June-December 1991, p. 105, no. 90 (illustrated in color).
    Roslyn, Nassau County Museum of Art, La belle époque, June-September 1995.
    Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago, Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre, March-October 2005, p. 296, no. 79 (illustrated in color, p. 76).