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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec suffered from health problems due to generations of inbreeding.

His parents were first cousins (blech) and came from a long line of aristocrats. Breaking both legs when he was a teenager, Henri's legs stopped growing, leaving him at five feet in height with an adult body on short legs. Despite his bad luck, he love love loved the nightlife in Paris and lived in Montmartre, which was the place to be if you were an artist. He frequented the dance halls and brothels. The famous Moulin Rouge had a special table reserved just for him. In his Post-Impressionist paintings he immortalized the rowdy and raucous can-can dancers and ladies of the night. In fact, he was so enamored with the prostitutes that he would sometimes live in brothels for weeks at a time.

Advertising for his female companions, he reinvented the art of the poster, and became the premier artist for promoting famous Parisian performers. People loved his posters so much they would rip them off the walls and take them home. Henri should have probably taken the party home more often. A total lush, he invented the extremely potent cocktail the “Earthquake” which is half absinthe and half cognac. Not surprisingly he died of the effects of syphilis and alcoholism at age of 36. Young even for back then.

But during his short life, he created a large body of work which was widely exhibited. After his death, his paintings were offered to the Louvre. The Louvre rejected them, probably due to what they considered risque subject matter. They're high-kicking themselves now.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Comte Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901), known as Toulouse-Lautrec (

French: [tuluz lotʁɛk]), was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, caricaturist, and illustrator whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century allowed him to produce a collection of enticing, elegant, and provocative images of the sometimes decadent affairs of those times.

Born into the aristocracy, Toulouse-Lautrec broke both his legs around the time of his adolescence and, possibly due to the rare condition pycnodysostosis, was very short as an adult due to his undersized legs. In addition to alcoholism, he developed an affinity for brothels and prostitutes that directed the subject matter for many of his works, which record details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris. He is among the painters described as being Post-Impressionists, with Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Georges Seurat also commonly considered as belonging in this loose group.

In a 2005 auction at Christie's auction house, La Blanchisseuse, Toulouse-Lautrec's early painting of a young laundress, sold for US$22.4 million, setting a new record for the artist for a price at auction.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec