Femme Tirant son Bas Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

In 1894, the artist produced several artworks which featured women pulling on their stockings, with the original French titles of Femme Tirant son Bas. Some were simple sketches with a single figure, others, such as this one, were a little more complex.

This particular piece was produced using oil on cardboard and is around half a metre in width and height. Toulouse-Lautrec rarely included women of this particular occupation so exposed as this. Whilst he would feature elements of their lives, he would suggest at their roles rather than being quite so honest on canvas. Typically he would feature "Femme de maison" alongside their customers, perhaps socialising together in some of the cafe bars that attracted him so much. He placed a great importance on the figurative element of the portrait in front of us here and so produced a number of studies first. This final artwork includes a figure to the left hand side and also other detail within the room. Femme Tirant son Bas would eventually find its way into the permanent collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, where it remains today. The institution itself is one of France's finest art museums and boasts one of the best displays of French art anywhere in the world.

The artwork features a woman adjusting her garter, with only her stockings on at this time. A customer looks on, leaning against the wall with his hand by his side. The background is left fairly simple, with the original medium showing through in most of it. The model has light auburn hair which seemed to feature regularly within Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings, but the scantily-clad nature of this portrait was certainly unusual. Perhaps the artist was becoming more confident and less socially repressed, challenging himself as much as the viewer. It was important to him that he continued to focus on the seedier elements of life in Paris, going behind the scenes of what people saw during their evenings out. He adored theatre and cabaret, but also liked to examine the characters from that when they were offstage. He left behind an important body of work which was both technically impressive, but also intriguing to viewers a good century later.

Female portraiture features many times within his career, and he adored the female body and the glamour that some of these people enjoyed. He was also sensitive to the more difficult lives experienced by others and managed to convince them to allow him to capture this within his work. Some of the most famous items from his oeuvre include Divan Japonais, Jane Avril and Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant, though Femme Tirant son Bas (Woman Changing her Stockings) offers an important variation in mood and content. He was supremely gifted as an artist and released a large amount of work to a consistently high standard, obsessing over his art when other parts of his life were particularly difficult.