Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Albi, Tarn in the Midi-Pyrénées Region of France. From an old aristocratic family that had lost much of its prestige, he was the son of Comte Alphonse and Comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec. At age twelve Henri broke his left leg, and at fourteen his right leg. The bones did not heal properly, and his legs ceased to grow. He reached maturity with a body trunk of normal size but with abnormally short legs. He was only 4 1/2 feet (1.5 meters) tall.
Deprived of the physical life that a normal body would have permitted, Toulouse-Lautrec lived completely for his art. He would become an important post-impressionist painter, art nouveau illustrator, and lithographer, recording the bohemian lifestyle of Paris at the end of the 19th century. For his work, he has been called the soul of Montmartre, where he made his home. His paintings portrait life in the Montmartre and other Parisian cabarets and theaters, and in the brothels that he frequented regularly. One famous person occurring in his paintings was Louise Weber, the dancer who created the "French CanCan."
He taught painting to Suzanne Valadon, one of his models, and encouraged her efforts.
One side to Toulouse-Lautrec that is little known is his friendships with some of the most memorable characters at the end of the century, including Oscar Wilde and Félix Fénéon, famed anarchist. Toulouse-Lautrec even helped design the sets to anarchist plays.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died at his estate in Malromé and is buried in Verdelais, Gironde, a few miles from his birthplace.
Today, a painting by him can sell for as much as US$ 14.5 million.
Some of his important works:
- Ambassadeurs: Aristide Bruant
- At the Moulin Rouge: Two Women Waltzing
- La Goulue Arriving at the Moulin Rouge with Two Women
- Justine Dieuhl
- The Hangover (Suzanne Valadon),1887-1889.
- "A Montrouge" - Rosa La Rouge
- Moulin Rouge: La Goulue (Louise Weber)
- Rue des Moulins: The Medical Inspection
- The Toilette
- The Two Girlfriends
- Two Half-Naked Women Seen from behind in the Rue des Moulins Brothel
- Woman Pulling up her Stocking
- Yvette Guilbert Greeting the Audience
- May Belfort singing Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-wow
- La Chaine Simpson