Toulouse-Lautrec: Redoute au Moulin Rouge (From the archives)

From the Archive.  Everyday, I research objects, and write up information pertinent to their interpretation and enjoyment.  Once the object sells, the information is lost to the world…  “From the Archive” is my way of leaving traces of this work, this knowledge, in hope that it can be of use or interest to someone.


In the foreground of this lithograph by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), titled Une Redoute au Moulin-Rouge, a dancer rides on a donkey.  It has been speculated that it is La Goulue, the stage name for Louise Weber (1866-1929).  She was then the most famous “act” in Montmartre, and her cancan, a particularly rowdy dance known as chahut (literally “ruckus”) drew crowds to Le Moulin Rouge.  While her features in this lithograph do not reflect contemporary photographs exactly, they are very close to other portraits by Toulouse-Lautrec of La Goulue at that time (Ill. 1, below, portrait of La Goulue, by Lautrec).

To her left, in the image’s right edge, Cha-U-Ka-O[1], the clowness who was often depicted by Lautrec, rides on a horse (Ill. 2, below, detail of a portrait of Cha-U-Ka-O, by Lautrec).

Both are part of a parade that was meant as a mockery of the Franco-Russian Alliance, which had been in the works since 1892 and was ratified by both nations at the end of 1893 and early in 1894.  This rapprochement was regarded as one of convenience, against the alliance of Germany with Austria-Hungary (the so-called Dual Alliance).  Many artists found it preposterous to the point of making fun of it.  Of course, the irreverent Moulin Rouge just had to make a parody of a military parade, by assembling all of its characters into an eclectic assortment of mock soldiers showing their “might” (Ill. 3, below, an advertisement by Roedel, for this event).

The rearguard is made up of a man and a woman who likely were meant to be the personification of France and Russia.  The woman in a worker’s apron, and who likely personifies Russia, looks robust and healthy.  She easily outflanks her male skinny companion.  This couple is also depicted in another lithograph by Toulouse-Lautrec that same year (illustration below).  In this image, “France” is clearly shown as a scrawny man, who smokes, reads Paris Sport and wears the typical blue de travail (workers shirt, typically blue) and the accompanying soft casquette (cap).

Our impression of this whimsical composition shows only the left side of this composition (Ill. 4, below, the full composition, as it was published).

According to Wittrock there were only three known proofs with only the left or the right half of the image printed.  We can trace this very impression back to the collection of Heinrich Stein in Germany in the 1920’s.  While the complete composition, printed in an edition of 50 does very occasionally surface on the open market, our impression is likely unique and has been kept in nearly perfect condition for all of these years.

Description of our print, as illustrated at the top of this entry:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Une Redoute au Moulin Rouge

Lithograph printed in black ink on wove paper.  1893.
References: Delteil 65; Adriani 54; Wittrock 42.
Extremely rare impression apart from the edition of 50, with only the left half of the image printed.  Wittrock records only three known proofs with only the left half or the right half of the image printed.
Signed with the artist’s red monogram stamp (Lugt 1338).
Image: 11 ¼ x 9 ½ in. (287 x 242 mm).
Sheet: 15 x 11 ⅛ in. (383 x 283 mm).

• Collection of Dr. Heinrich Stinnes, Cologne (D).
• Auctioned by C.G. Boerner, Nov 10-11, 1932, Leipzig (D).
• Private collection, France.
• Armstrong Fine Art, catalogue, 2000.
• Peter Bartlett, New York, NY.


[1] Cha-U-Ka-O, the name of a famous clowness at the Moulin Rouge was a play on the words chahut and chaos, literally “ruckus” and “chaos”.  This name is indicative of how rowdy the entertainment at that establishment really was.  Women, such as the two mentioned here, presented forms of entertainment not seen elsewhere in Paris.  This brought throngs of people to Montmartre, in search for thrills that could not be found in the central districts of the capital.



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