Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
(Albi, 1864-1901, Ch. de Malromé, Gironde)
Confettis, 1894
Oil on canvas, 55.5 x 43 cm
Signed & dated lower left: HTLautrec 94
Dortu P. 517
Toulouse-Lautrec’s ability to hit upon the most characteristic feature by way of formal reduction was bound to make a poster artist of him, and the poster celebrated its greatest triumphs in Paris in the 1890s, not least owing to him. The cafés and cabarets of Montmartre, where Lautrec, the social outcast, had made himself at home, became his first clients. The relationship between painting and lithograph is very complicated in the case of Lautrec; sometimes the poster lithographs appear only years after the paintings. "Confettis", dated 1894, is one of the few oil paintings done as immediate studies for a poster. On the canvas grounded in white there appear the flowing lines of a drawing which is as much 18th century as it is "art nouveau", in venomous green, to which the scarlet mouth and the reddish hair form an exciting contrast, while the effect of the poster of the London firm of J. & E. Bella for confettis, done in the same year, is mollified by the drawing in black, red and yellowish-red on a sprayed blue-grey ground. "Confettis" is based less on monumental silhouette effects, like Lautrec’s other masterful posters, and has the light charm of the pace-makers of the modern poster, Jules Chéret and Pierre Bonnard, whose poster "France-Champagne" of 1891 seems like a counterpart to "Confettis". At the same time the poster is an homage to the actress Jeanne Granier, whose indefinable smile Lautrec had for a long time been trying to seize.