The Laundress

The Laundress

1888

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

(French, 1864-1901)

Black and gray wash with white paint, scratched away in places

Support: Gray cardboard prepared with a white ground

Sheet: 75.9 x 63.1 cm (29 7/8 x 24 13/16 in.)

Gift of the Hanna Fund 1952.113

Catalogue raisonné: Dortu D. 3.029

Fun Fact

To create this drawing, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted a board white and then both scraped the material away in areas and drew with black ink to create a variety of tones throughout the image.

Description

A prolific illustrator, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec made this drawing as an illustration for an article about "Summer in Paris" published in Paris illustré, a magazine popular among the middle classes. Although the article singled out the laundress as a charming object of the male gaze on the city streets, the stooping posture and dark-circled eyes of the figure seen here give her a worn, tired appearance that invites comparison with the workhorse behind her. The drawing's sharp receding perspective emphasizes the act of street-level spectatorship and a man's top hat visible in the coach behind the woman alludes to her subservient social and sexual role.

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