Lot 2
  • 2

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

350,000 - 450,000 USD
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  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Elles
  • Signed on the cover, each with the publisher's stamp (Lugt 1190) and inscribed Series 38
  • Nine lithographs from the Elles portfolio printed in color, plus the lithographic cover and the lithographic frontispiece

  • Each sheet: 20 1/2 by 15 3/4 in.
  • 52.1 by 40 cm


Arthur Smith

Collection of Mr. & Mrs. John Hay Whitney (acquired in 1960 from the above, through Antoine Grandmaison and sold: Sotheby's, New York, Impressionist and Modern Art from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. John Hay Whitney, May 10, 1999, lot 14)

Acquired at the above sale


Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Marcel Lender in "Chilperic," 1994-95


Loys Delteil, Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré (XIXe et XXe Siècles), H. de Toulouse-Lautrec, vol. 11, Paris, nos. 179-189, illustrations of other examples

Jean Adhémar, Toulouse-Lautrec: His Complete Lithographs and Drypoints, New York, 1975, nos. 200-210, illustrations of other examples pp. 200-210

Wolfgang Wittrock, Toulouse-Lautrec: The Complete Prints, London, 1985, nos. 155-165, illustrations of other examples pp. 376-399

Götz Adriani, Toulouse-Lautrec, The Complete Graphic Works, A Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1986, nos. 171-181, illustrations of other examples pp. 222-243

Richard Thomson, Philip Dennis Cate, Mary Weaver Chapin & Florence E. Coman, Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. & The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2005, illustrations of other examples pp. 229-235


The prints are in good condition overall and the sheets are full. Each bears the ink stamp of Gustave Pellet and is watermarked G. Pellet/Toulouse Lautrec. All sheets are hinged with Japan paper at the upper right and left corners. Lacking Femme qui se lave la toilette (Adriani 176) Adriani 171-1 68.1 by 109 cm Folding creases, as issued, with associated discoloration along the folds. Mottled foxing throughout and a few stains from prior hinges are visible. Adriani 171-II 51.5 by 40 cm Some handling creases. Discoloration from prior hinges on the verso shows through on the recto in five spots. Adriani 172 - La Clownesse assise 52 by 40.5 cm The colors in the background are very slightly attenuated but the red and yellow in the figure remain strong. There are pale adhesive stains from previous hinges on the verso at sheet corners and center of left and right edges, four showing through to the recto, most noticeably at center right. A small diagonal crease (5 mm) at lower left where the corner was folded over in printing has left a white spot on the recto and the splatter of the lithograph on the verso. Adriani 173 40 by 51.8 cm Minor mat stain along the sheet edges. Adhesive discoloration from prior hinges on the verso showing through slightly on recto. Adriani 174 40.4 by 52.3 cm Discoloration comprises two spots of discoloration from prior hinges in left and right corners, showing through slightly on recto and a few very tiny fox marks visible upon close inspection near lower sheet edge. There are minor handling creases and traces of pale mat stain along the edges of the sheet. Adriani 175 40.2 by 52.3 cm Two shallow paper losses at lower right and lower left corners measure about ¼ - ½ inch. Discoloration comprises mat stain at the edges, two fox marks at the deckle, lower right, and a few adhesive stains from prior hinges showing through at upper sheet corners. Adriani 178 52.5 by 40.5 cm There is a short printer's crease with associated tear (.5 cm, backed with Japan) at the left sheet edge. The ink did not register where paper was creased leaving a hairline un-printed line. The mat stain along sheet edges is most notable at bottom. Discoloration from old hinges shows through to the recto at the lower corners and the center of right side. Adriani 177 52 by 40 cm Mat stain at edges. Five spots of discoloration from old hinges on verso, three of which show through on recto. One fox mark approximately 1 ½" from upper right sheet edge. Adriani 179 40.2 by 52.1 cm The yellow background is slightly attenuated. Discoloration comprises three adhesive stains from prior hinging on the verso, showing through slightly and minor mat stain along the deckle. There is a small crease at the lower right corner and occasional handling creases are visible in the paper Adriani 180 52.5 by 40.5 cm The blue and yellow inks are slightly attenuated. A soft diagonal crease at upper left corner measures 11 inches. A narrow (.3 cm) stain measuring 8 inches extends along the upper deckle. Additionally there is pale mat stain and three spots of discoloration from prior hinges on verso, one of which shows through slightly on recto Adriani 181 40.2 by 52.2 cm Discoloration comprises mat stain along the top, left, and right sheet edges as well as adhesive discoloration from prior hinges showing through on recto.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

As a chronicler of the café culture and the night life in turn-of-the-century Paris, Toulouse-Lautrec had no rivals. Born into an aristocratic French family in 1864, Lautrec spent much of his life among the Parisian demi-monde, revealing his genius in sharp, analytical portrayals of the twilight world of the fin-de-siècle Paris. A brilliant interpreter of this lively and debauched world, Lautrec did not limit himself – as so many of his contemporaries had done – to social critique. Whether it was the quick sketch of a face, the curving lines of a group of dancers, a scene in a café, at the Théâtre des Variétés or in a maison close, he succeeded in capturing the timeless humanity that lay beneath the illusory façades of his subjects.

Between the years of 1892 and 1895, Lautrec was a regular visitor to the maisons closes (brothels) of the rue des Moulins, the rue d'Ambroise and the rue Joubert, observing, sketching, and often living with the prostitutes for weeks at a time. Lautrec devoted Elles, an entire suite of prints to his experience at the brothels, seeking to portray them without the morality or overt eroticism common in other artists' depictions of similar subjects. Rather, he showed his subjects engaged in the everyday activities of grooming, bathing, dressing and sleeping. The one print that is an exception of the general, anonymous tone of the portfolio, and the only image which does not depict a prostitute, is the portrait of Cha-u-ka-o, a dancer (La Clownesse assise). Known for her acrobatic versions of erotic dances, Cha-u-ka-o is linked to the other subjects of the portfoilo as a practitioner of a form of popular entertainment frowned upon, but often patronized by the upper classes.

Executed in 1896 and published in an edition of 100 the same year, this portfolio is widely regarded as the artist's definitive work from this period, and one of the pinnacles of color lithography. Among the most prolific lithographers of the nineteenth century, Lautrec regarded this medium as a primary means of artisitc expression in that it afforded him a greater flexibility and control than other graphic media. In these superb examples, Lautrec has combined the evocative and powerful primacy of line, the use of broad planes of color (derived from the immensely popular and influential Japanese woodblock prints) with original compositional designs and his extraordinary command of the technique. Often, bright colors are defused by splatterwork which promotes a more painterly approach to lithography. To achieve these textural effects, Lautrec used a toothbrush for the splatterwork, as well as the conventional lithographic crayons and fine brushes for the lines and detail work. The Elles suite highlights not only Lautrec's mastery of color lithography, but also his exploration of color, line, texture and paper. Please note that Femme qui se lave – La Toilette (Delteil 184) is lacking from the current portfolio.