Portrait of Suzanne Valadon 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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This portrait of Suzanne Valadon was completed in 1885 by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. She was a friend of Henri, and also an artist as well. She lived within the Parisien district of Montmartre where most creative people could be found in the late 19th century.

The model looks directly at us in this piece, which is composed in the manner of a more traditional portrait. She is captured from the waist up and appears to be posing within a local park. A small pathway comes across the horizontal, whilst a number of trees are lined either side. The autumnal colours that they display appears to suggest we are approaching winter, with some trees now completely devoid of visible growth until the next year comes around once more. Light is mainly placed along the path behind, though the subject herself is light enough that we can make out all of the detail that we need to. Suzanne Valadon looks elegant in her attractive purple outfit, with a matching hat that leads up towards the top of the painting. Her expression is serious, and the overall piece is fairly unique within Toulouse-Lautrec's portraits.

Suzanne Valadon would model for the artist several times, including another from 1887-1889 which became known as The Hangover and features the woman in a mood of melancholy. Interestingly, it has been discovered that she would be Henri's mistress for several years and that she was also a circus performer at one point, underlining how she passed through several different occupations even just during the years that she was familiar with Toulouse-Lautrec. The artist captured scenes from the circus several times, such as CAt the ircus Fernando, the Rider, and so perhaps this was where they met in the first place.

This painting can be found in the permanent collection of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The artist was highly prolific and despite his life being cut short relatively prematurely, he still left behind a large amount of work which has since been dispersed right across the world. That said, this must be one of the few items from his career to now reside in South America, with most to be found today within his native Europe and also in the US. Much of this was down to the nationalities of the collectors of his work, some of whom would bequeth large amounts of his work to major galleries within their localities. Others have been sold at auction, with many of his lithographs coming up for sale in recent years.