The Streetwalker 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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The Streetwalker is the title of several different artworks by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, all presenting portraits of women in a relatively sombre setting.

The artist was particularly interested in the lives of 'ordinary folk', that is those on the edges of society, just trying to keep food on the table. He himself spent plenty of time in their company due to his liking for the nightlife of Paris. He felt more at home during these hours and would mix with cabaret singers, prostitutes and also dancers during his time in these establishments. This seedier side of the city also held creativity and a welcoming community that he did not experience in normal society.

This version actually has a more positive palette of colours to it than some of the others on this topic. The lady seems happy and enjoying the outdoors which spreads across the background of this artwork. It is only the title of the piece, which was another term for a prostitute, that adds a more sinister and darker element to what we see. That said, the artist liked to paint precisely as he saw and so it is likely that his subject was as she appears at that time. We do not know much about her though.

This painting was completed as oil on cardboard and is now under the ownership of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US. Their collection features several paintings and drawings by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, plus many other artists connected to the French impressionists and post-impressionists. The head wear found in this painting contributed to the subject's nickname of La Casque d'Or, or Golden Helmet, but we never discovered her true identity. Other figures who regularly appeared in Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings included Jane Avril who would even check over some of his lithographs once they had been prepared. He would create adverts for shows and events within the theatrical world, helping to promote the very same evenings that he would attend himself.