Oil and tempera with charcoal on millboard
Sheet: 80.3 x 65 cm (31 5/8 x 25 9/16 in.); Framed: 105.4 x 89.5 x 8.3 cm (41 1/2 x 35 1/4 x 3 1/4 in.)
Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection 1925.1409
Catalogue raisonné: Dortu P.465
The green drink on the table is probably absinthe, a popular drink with artists at the time that was thought to have hallucinogenic properties.
Cleveland’s 1925 purchase of this work by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec marked the first acquisition of one of the artist’s drawings by a museum in the United States. Its subject, Monsieur Boileau, was a gossip columnist known to drink heavily at Le Mirliton, a nightclub. Here, saturated, acidic tones evoke the room’s gas lamps and thinned oil paint absorbs into its support, producing texture that complements the scene’s grittiness. In his own time, Toulouse-Lautrec was considered a portraitist for such depictions of friends and other inhabitants of his neighborhood. He preferred drawing for its immediacy, using it to record his sitters’ personalities through materials and formal choices.
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