HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)
HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)
HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)
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HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)
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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE ESTATE OF DIANA METCALF STAINOWDiana Metcalf Stainow (1926-2019) was born and raised in Boston and after her marriage to Gregory Stainow, who she met in New York, she moved to France, eventually splitting her time between Paris and London. She was a painter with an eye for color and pattern and a profound interest in non-western cultures. Her taste was grounded in her family's American cultural heritage. She was a descendant of Robert Treat Paine, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Her grandfather, Robert Treat Paine II, was a renowned Boston collector who gifted many masterpieces to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Her father, Thomas Metcalf, was one of the founders of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, formerly called the Boston Museum of Modern Art. During World War II, the Institute became the home of the Metcalf family, who occupied the two top floors of the building; the distinction between private and public space was blurred as local artists, members of the Institute, were welcome in the Metcalf household. During these formative artistic years for Diana – who attended the Boston Museum School – the Institute had an exhibition program striking for its diversity, inclusiveness and daring representation of the vitality of American art during the 1940’s, in addition to its contemporary European programming. This period was decisive in shaping her approach to collecting which ranged across centuries, cultures and styles. In the 40’s the Institute had a first solo show of Georges Rouault and exhibited works by Leger and Maillol – all artists in her collection that are now being sold. Stainow’s idiosyncratic approach was also evident in her elegant apartment in London. With her unique and daring eye, she commissioned a graffiti artist to paint the entrance foyer and hung Rouault tapestries and Toulouse-Lautrec's Elles prints over the graffiti to striking effect.
HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)

Elles

Details
HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)
Elles
The complete set of twelve lithographs, including the cover and frontispiece
Printed in 1896 by Auguste Clot, Paris
Published by Gustave Pellet, Paris, in an edition of one hundred
Signed 'TLautrec' in pencil by the artist on the inside of the cover (lower left)
Signed, dedicated and numbered 'A Monsieur Maus/ en souvenir/ Pellet/ 1er/ no 16' in ink by the publisher on the cover (lower right)
Variably numbered Serie no. 16, 18, 19 or 45 (as issued), with the publisher's paraph (Lugt 1194) and ink stamp (Lugt 1190)
Images & Sheets 20 1⁄2 x 15 3⁄4 ins. (52.1 x 40 cm.) (and similar)
Provenance
Gustave Pellet (1859-1919), Paris (Lugt 1190).
Octave Maus (1856-1919), Paris; a gift from the above.
Presumably E. Mutiaux (1846-1925), Paris, acquired from the above.
Presumably Colonel Wilde, by descent from the above.
Maurice Loncle (1879-1966), Paris (Lugt 3489); his sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 2 June 1959 (couverture, frontispice et 10 pl., for 5,500,000 Fr.).
Acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent to the present owners.
Literature
L. Delteil, Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré: Toulouse-Lautrec (Volume X), Paris, 1920, nos. 179-189 (another set illustrated).
J. Adhémar, Toulouse-Lautrec: His Complete Lithographs and Drypoints, London, 1965, nos. 200-210 (another set illustrated).
W. Wittrock, Toulouse-Lautrec: The Complete Prints, London, 1985, nos. 155-165 (another set illustrated).
R. Castleman & W. Wittrock, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Images of the 1890s, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1985, nos. 139-158 (another set illustrated).
G. Adriani, Toulouse-Lautrec: Das Gesamte Graphische Werk - Sammlung Gerstenberg, Cologne, 1986, nos. 171-181 (another set illustrated).
R. Thomson, “Images of the maisons closes” in Toulouse-Lautrec, exh. cat., Yale University, New Haven, 1991, nos. 141A-K (another set illustrated).
P. D. Cate, G. B. Murray & R. Thomson, Prints Abound, Paris in the 1890s, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2001, nos. 51-55 (another set partially illustrated).
J. Döring, Toulouse-Lautrec und die Belle-Époque, exh. cat., Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, 2002, pp. 186-195 (another set partially illustrated).
R. Thomson, P. D. Cate & M. W. Chapin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, & The Art Institute of Chicago, 2005, nos. 259a-l (another set illustrated).
F. Roos Rosa de Carvalho, Printmaking in Paris, The rage for prints at the fin de siècle, exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2012, pp. 102-105 (another set partially illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Elles is one of the most celebrated and sought-after series in the history of printmaking and a masterpiece of 19th century lithography. The prints are the culmination of the artist’s exploration of the medium, demonstrating his versatility and mastery of the lithographic technique.

In the years preceding the creation of Elles, between 1892 and 1895, the artist became well acquainted with the prostitutes who lived and worked at the brothels of rue des Moulins, rue d'Amboise and rue Joubert. As an aristocrat, a regular visitor and, at times, long-term guest of these so-called maisons closes, the artist lived both at the centre and at the margins of Parisian life, flitting between but never fully erasing the boundaries of these opposing social worlds. The women of the demi-monde fascinated Toulouse-Lautrec and his contemporaries, most notably Edgar Degas, and their work proved to be a catalyst for the young Pablo Picasso, who arrived in Paris in 1901, the year of Toulouse-Lautrec’s death.

Many of the images in Elles depict scenes of everyday life within a maison close, intimate observations of the women getting ready to receive their clients or being looked after by the Madame. Toulouse-Lautrec was particularly interested in depicting his subject’s daily routines, at the wash table or dozing in bed. The familiarity and sense of ease of the women with the artist enabled him to capture these moments of unguarded preoccupation. The artist’s depiction of these women is sympathetic and un-intrusive, despite their varying states of undress, as he explores the complexities of living as a woman and a prostitute rather than eroticizing or sensationalising their profession.

They were his friends as well as his models. He in turn had an uplifting effect on them. In his presence they were just women, and he treated them as equals. When he ate with them, often bringing a party of friends, they held their knives and forks daintily, restrained their conversation, had the feeling of being women of some standing. Lautrec's almost womanly intuition and sympathy shone like a light for them" (Jane Avril, quoted in: D. Sweetman, Toulouse-Lautrec and the Fin-de-Siècle, London, 1999, p. 341).

La Clownesse assise, the most famous lithograph in the series, depicts a stage performer, not a prostitute, the dancer Mademoiselle CHA-U-KA-O . A performer at the Nouveau Cirque and the Moulin Rouge, she is shown in full costume, in a bright yellow pleated ruff, resting back stage. Mademoiselle CHA-U-KA-O claimed to be Japanese, yet her name is in fact a phonetic transcription of the French words chahut, an acrobatic dance derived from the cancan, and the chaos she caused whenever she came on stage. CHA-U-KA-O began her performing life as a lithe and supple gymnast, as evident in a photograph taken by Toulouse-Lautrec's close companion Maurice Guibert, for whom she would pose. By 1895 however, the agile, slender dancer had metamorphosed into that of the ageing, slightly overweight clownesse. The arc of CHA-U-KA-O ’s life, ending in physical ruin, was bound to attract Toulouse-Lautrec. Fascinated as he was by decadence and decline, it is his ability to empathize with his subjects and his willingness to show them in all their human frailty and vulnerability—off-stage rather than in the spotlight—that sets him apart from most of his contemporaries. We feel the performer’s aching feet and heavy limbs, see her wry, crooked little smile, and understand, this is a woman who hasn't given up, but knows her best days have passed.

The influence of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts on Toulouse-Lautrec and the French avant-garde in general has often been pointed out. Inspired by the vivid, flat colours, strong contours and non-linear perspective, artists turned to colour lithography as a truly modern medium, thereby changing the course of Western art. In the case of the Elles series, Toulouse-Lautrec seems to have found inspiration in a specific masterpiece of Japanese printmaking, Kitagawa Utamaro’s Seiro juni toki tsuzuki (Twelve Hours of the Green Houses), first published circa 1794. In twelve images - one for each of the traditional Japanese hours of the day - the series depicts the activities of the women in a brothel, a so-called 'green house’. Utamaro (1753-1806) had spent considerable time with the women of Yoshiwara, the amusement district of Edo, and for a while had even lived with them, as Lautrec had in Paris. Just as the French artist would do one hundred years later, Utamaro depicted the women in quiet, domestic scenes - dressing, washing, resting, but never with their customers. The connections between the two print series run deep, both formally and in spirit, and it seems that Toulouse-Lautrec modelled the Elles very consciously on the Japanese master’s example.

The series was first exhibited in 1896 in the gallery of the literary and artistic periodical La Plume at 31 Rue Bonaparte on 22 April 1896. The following year three of the prints were shown at the Salon des Indépendants and the complete set was exhibited again at La Libre Esthétique in Brussels. The art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard then exhibited the series in June of 1897 at his gallery at 41 Rue Lafitte, where it was offered complete at 300 francs or individual lithographs at 25 francs each. The considerable price at the time reflected the high production value of the portfolio as well as the esteem in which Vollard held Toulouse-Lautrec as a printmaker. Despite the publicity and notoriety that the prints attracted, very few complete sets were sold at the time, and many of the prints from the series were sold individually by the publisher over the course of the next two decades. Of the surviving sets that remain extant, the majority are in public collections. Only six sets, including this example, have been offered at auction in the last three decades.

The present set was a gift from the publisher Gustave Pellet to the Belgian critic and intimate of the artist Octave Maus. It was acquired by Maurice Loncle, the Parisian collector who amassed an important Toulouse-Lautrec collection in the first half of the 20th century and sold at Galerie Charpentier, Paris on 2 June 1959 (vente sensationnelle, faite sous les initiales M.L., du superbe ensemble de lithographies de Toulouse-Lautrec).

The portfolio includes the following lithographs: Cover (Wittrock 155); Frontispiece (W. 155); La clownesse assise (Madamoiselle CHA-U-KA-O) (W. 156); Femme au plateau - Petit déjeuner (W. 157); Femme couchée - Réveil (W. 158); Femme au tub - Le tub (W. 159); Femme qui se lave - La toilette (W. 160); Femme à glace - La glace à main (W. 161); Femme qui se peigne - La coiffure (W. 162); Femme au lit, profil - Au petit lever (W. 163); Femme en corset - Conquête de passage (W. 164); Femme sur le dos - Lassitude (W. 165).

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