Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- Signed with the initials and dated T-L 1881 (upper left) and inscribed Chiennot (lower left)
- Oil on canvas
Marie Tapié de Céleyran, Paris (the artist's niece)
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 5, 1944, lot 121 (titled Le Brabançon, catalogued as oil on panel and with the dimensions 35 by 26 cm)
The John and Frances Loeb Collection (sold: Christie's, New York, May 12, 1999, lot 113)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition, 1961, no. 97
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition, 1962, no. 94
Maurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, vol. I, Paris, 1926, catalogued p. 255 (catalogued as oil on panel)
M. G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre, vol. II, New York, 1971, no. P.107, illustrated p. 52 (catalogued as on panel and with the dimensions 35 by 26 cm)
Giorgio Caproni, L'opera completa di Toulouse-Lautrec, Milan, 1977, no. 89, catalogued p. 94
The Frances and John L. Loeb Collection, London, 1982, no. 19, illustrated
Margot was painted during Toulouse-Lautrec's early years in Paris, when he began to challenge the dictates of his formal training. This charming canine portrait is a wonderful example of his rebellion, as it parodies the seriousness of French academic painting and the formal photographic portraiture by his contemporaries including Nadar. The artist expresses the animal’s personality through the quick, energetic brushwork, and poses her at attention against a sedate blue background. Götz Adriani writes of how the artist paid close attention to the pretenses of society, and his observations of certain social customs and manners factored largely into his paintings: “Lautrec was fascinated equally by the pompous gesture of a mime, a funny hair ribbon, the tired expression of a barman or the luxurious arrangement of a feather boa. (…) The emphasis he gave to the momentary had to be matched by a photographic objectivity, which clarified spatial organization without undermining the rules of the surface. Lautrec’s liking for drastic spatial abbreviations, using a deliberately distorted perspective, in which space is compressed and the foreground and background are brought close together, can be explained by his photographic activities” (Götz Adriani, Toulouse-Lautrec, New York, 1987, p. 15).
Toulouse-Lautrec loved animals, partly because of their inability to judge him. His physical deformities and inadequacies were no longer an issue when he surrounded himself with these creatures who brought out his playfulness and sense of humor. As the contemporary critic Rivoire remarked, "animals became persons for him, as (they do) in fables. Just as much as their form, more than their form, it is their character, it is actually their soul which he sought to grasp and express. He made portraits of animals just as he made portraits of men" (Rivoire, quoted in Charles F. Stuckey, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paintings, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1979, p. 275).