Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Has a disease named after him
Marguerite Elliot


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 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 absinth 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.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is mentioned on Sartle Blog -