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P. Sescau / Photographe. 1896.

P. Sescau / Photographe. 1896.

Item Description:

Artist: HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)
Size: 31 3/8 x 23 3/4 in./79.7 x 60.3 cm
Condition: A. Framed.
Printer:
Reference: Ref: Witrock, P22B; Adriani, 60-I; Wagner, 15; PAI-LXII, 571
Key Words: Art Nouveau; Artist: Toulouse-Lautrec; Jane Avril

P. Sescau / Photographe. 1896.
“The only poster by Lautrec that relates to photography, the medium that so significantly influenced French artists beginning with the Realists and Impressionists, is Sescau, Photographe... The lively Paul Sescau, who was given to the same pleasures as Lautrec and other friends, was the first in his field to photograph the artist’s work and from him Lautrec learned the art of photography. As did Degas, Lautrec often used photographs for figures and compositional motifs in his painting and posters. It is not known who printed the Sescau poster, but Lautrec defrayed the costs... In this poster a woman (possibly Jane Avril) in a red print gown holds a lorgnette in her black-gloved hand and acts as a large repoussoir element, vivid against the overall moss green of the background. The woman’s contracted and shrinking attitude, suggesting that she is fleeing from the camera, is an ironic comment probably intended for Sescau, who ‘used his studio mainly for seduction.’ Head and body largely hidden by a dark cloth, the photographer in Lautrec’s drawing is converted into an almost extraterrestrial creature whose head is composed of a square box with a bulging eye-lens, intent on pursuing or exposing his object. The woman’s dress, designed with a repeating pattern of question marks, could be said to add irony to the message” (Wagner, p. 26). Julia Frey’s interpretation is even more explicit and interesting: “Sescau... who was reputed to use his studio primarily for sexual liaisons, is completely hidden under the black cloth of his camera, but the cloth itself dangles between his legs in a long phallus-shape, and the elegant woman of his focus seems to be trying to flee” (Frey, p. 422). This is the rare state with a mask over her face.

About The Artist:

HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901)


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