A Corner of the Moulin de la Galette Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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A Corner of the Moulin de la Galette was created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 1892. It is a multi figure piece which continues his work within the French cabaret community.

The main figure sits directly in front of us, with her back turned as she takes in the lively atmosphere. The young woman is dressed typical for that period, with her hair tied, and an elaborate head wear on top. She is auburn, with pale skin, which was popular with this artist when choosing people to sit for him. The artist was entirely comfortable within the cabaret and cafe environments, and became a well known figure around Paris in its night time economy. He found people in these communities to be more welcoming to him, and less concerned or judgemental about his own physical issues. He would therefore feature these scenes many times within his oeuvre, and help us all to learn more about this part of Paris life during the late 19th century. When we look at the subject's expression, we see someone deep in thought, caught in the moment when the artist manages to capture for eternity.

Behind the main subject, who is sat at a table, we find another six figures within this compact scene. Several are queueing in an orderly manner, most likely for a small drink from the bar. An older man sits on the other side of the table - perhaps he is acquainted with this young woman, or perhaps they are simply sharing the table in a friendly, polite manner as the room itself is particularly busy. He is dressed smartly, with a green bowler hat and a thick brown coat. The figures in this work are cropped aggressively, which was a style used by many French artists at this time and shows a link to Japanese wooden block styles, as well as photography - see, for example, how the head of one figure is removed from the composition deliberately by the artist in a manner that would not have been seen within western art in previous centuries.

A Corner of the Moulin de la Galette can now be found in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA. The item came into their ownership in the 1960s, having previously been owned privately. They list the piece as being over one metre in height, and was actually produced on cardboard rather than canvas. This may have been due to the environment in which the artist was working, rather than any stylistic or technical choice. Toulouse Lautrec was a heavy drinker, due to the mental turmoil of having to deal with his physical problems. It therefore made sense for him to become involved in the nightlife of Paris, and to include it within many of his paintings - with artworks such as At the Moulin Rouge, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue and Divan Japonais being amongst his most famous creations of all.