The Photographer Sescau 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

This beautiful advertisement poster exists in several lithographs in a variety of public collections in the US. Toulouse-Lautrec uses his talents to promote The Photographer Sescau who presumably was located in Paris in the late 19th century.

The extravagantly dressed woman is stunning in a pink ensemble, with yellow touches. The colours strike us immediately, as we study the main figure on the left hand side. There is then an image of her at work, using one of the types of cameras used at that time. Lettering is then added to confirm her occupation and to promote the business more clearly. Toulouse-Lautrec was regularly asked to produce commissions such as this and loved to pick cultural businesses in and around the district of Montmartre, which is where he lived and spent much of his time socialising. He took on novelists as well as many theatres and cabaret acts, leaving posters around the city which became popular and allowed him to create a steady stream of interest from local businesses. Print media was starting to grow but was very manual in approach at this time, making it more expensive but also far more charming in the products that were produced at that time.

The Photographer Sescau is listed as having been created in 1894, which fits precisely with the artist's whereabouts at that time. He spent much of his early career producing portraits of horses on his family's estate before seeking out specialist art training in schools across Paris that would help him to develop new ideas and also to make friends with a number of other artists who shared his passion. He was highly skilled as a draughtsman and we see elements of that within this painting, where individual strokes of the pen or brush can be seen as he constructed each figure. There is also a patterned style to the dress which works beautifully though may not have been seen from a distance within the streets of Paris.

The artist continued to enjoy the night life of this city for many years before it started to negatively impact his health. Drinking would spiral out of control and his behaviour would become more and more impulsive as a result before eventually his mother would institutionalise him for several months. His physical problems which affected him throughout his life were at the root of much of these issues, and he would never quite manage to overcome the genetic growth issues which left him at such a short stature for his whole life. He always felt welcomed within the cafe and theatre culture, up until his own behaviour became too much for anyone to bear.