Henri Toulouse Lautreche painted numerous portraits of women throughout his life. But generally they are portraits in other larger scenes, such as in his painting At the Moulin Rouge, and even as a prominent part of his famous posters. However, on very few occasions he did a portrait like this ofMiss Dolly, where the girl's face practically fills the entire image.
Portrait of Miss Dolly by Toulouse Lautrec
The painting is today in theToulouse Lautrec Museumin his hometown,Albi. But he didn't do it there, since we know the whole history of this play.
It was in 1899, in a year in which the painter had spent time in a psychiatric hospital to treat his crises and his alcoholism. So he decided to go on a trip with a relative. And being in the port city ofLe Havre, in the north of France to embark for Bordeaux, he entered a tavern where he met this woman who worked there as a waitress and a dancer.
Immediately, the artist was dazzled by the girl, and right there he made this portrait of her
It is an oil painting in which you can see the loose and precise brushstroke of Toulouse Lautrec. The entire surface is occupied by the head and bust of the girl, whose white complexion and golden hair stands out in a grandiose way against the bluish background full of geometric shapes.A geometry that gives more prominence to the curved lines of the nose, the mouth, the scarf or the curls of the hair. Masterly. And as if that were not enough, there is also a play of blues between the background, Miss Dolly's dress and hers, two of her eyes towards the center of the composition.
It is true that the work is an oil painting on a wooden board, but the appearance is almost like a watercolor and a drawing, due to the great dissolution of the paint and the lines that always mark the style of this painter. Which here shows us extraordinarily fresh and capable of portraying that beauty of a woman and conveying the idea of a very cheerful personality.
This is one of the best portraits of this artist, who here without renouncing the most characteristic elements of his art: lines, sinuosity, dynamism, … shows us a woman who just by looking at her we know that she is quite a seductress. And in addition to that, art historians see in this work certain details that advance other avant-garde styles, such as the pre-cubism that we see in that background of geometric shapes or the spontaneity and strength that later will be seen in the Expressionism.