Toulouse-Lautrec – Milan

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Toulouse-Lautrec in Milan Palazzo Reale


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On boxing day I had the good fortune to go with the family down to Milan to see the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at Palazzo Reale (or the Royal Palace in English). Toulouse-Lautrec is someone I had already known something about for quite some time now, having been the subject of one of the items in an English text I’d taught from; from which I’d also learnt of his small stature and his affinity with the notorious Moulin Rouge!

Toulouse-Lautrec was born nearly 100 years before me, and so lived in a society very different from that of today, and so I can imagine that his Bohemian lifestyle would have been somewhat shocking for the staid norms of the day. And indeed this theme of artists and prostitutes runs through the whole exhibition, which I’m sure could not have been anything but.

For anyone who knows the style of exhibitions given at Palazzo Reale would not have been disappointed with this large collection of painting and posters by Lautrec, and the Japanese works which had influenced him so much. And so for me what made this collection so special was the way it was presented: Awakening a kind of lurid curiosity into what would be the normally private part of lives outside of conventional society. I think that because Lautrec knew so well the artists and prostitutes of  Bohemian Paris at the end of the 1800s and was able to portray them in his work, he was able to capture a bare honesty about them, and show something of their souls as it were, giving his work a quality which has past the test of time.

Thoroughly recommended. If you have the chance to go here in Milan, it will certainly not disappoint.

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