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May Belfort

May Belfort

1895

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

(French, 1864-1901)

Oil

Support: Carboard

Framed: 86 x 71.5 x 8.9 cm (33 7/8 x 28 1/8 x 3 1/2 in.); Unframed: 63 x 48 cm (24 13/16 x 18 7/8 in.)

Bequest of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. 1958.54

Description

Like Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec was inspired by the caféconcerts, popular places of entertainment that featured singers or other forms of vaudeville entertainers. In 1895 Lautrec visited the café-concert known as Les Décadents, where he encountered the Irish singer May Belfort who became one of the artist's favorite models. Here, he depicted her on stage wearing one of her signature Kate Greenaway-style dresses with short puffed sleeves terminating in lace ruffles and a ruffled bonnet beneath which her hair escapes in a cascade of dark curls. Her appearance was intentionally babyish and the lisping voice in which she sang enhanced the illusion of extreme youth. She was said to have stood erect and motionless, as if carved out of wood, while the clients of Les Décadents shouted the choruses of her songs.

See also
Collection: 
DR - French
Department: 
Drawings
Type of artwork: 
Drawing
Medium: 
Oil

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