Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec




















Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1864 Albi – Malromé 1901)

La Revue Blanche

Color lithograph printed in olive green, blue, red and black inks, with brush and spatter techniques, 1895.
Printed on two joined wove sheets, as usual, linen-backed.
Image: 50 ¾ x 36 ½ in; 1289 x 927 mm.
References: Delteil 355; Adriani 130; Wittrock P16a, 1st state of three.

Provenance: Sagot-Le Garrec, Paris, sold in 1937
Mr. Swope, purchased from the above
Peter Bartlett, New-York
Thence by descent

This is a very fine and well preserved impression, with fresh colors.   The first state of this famous poster, with the remarque of the skating woman in the lower left corner, and before letters, is regarded by Wittrock as extremely rare at the time his finished his catalogue raisonné of the prints, thirty years ago. According to La Revue Blanche archives, an art and literary magazine, it was printed in this state in only fifty copies; possibly for some subscribers. However, as was not unusual at that time, the announced edition may not have be completed.  The fact that only four impressions were known to be in public collections according to Wittrock’s entry, makes the 50 copies in the first state highly unlikely.  We only know of two more impressions: the present one, and one in a private collection in Japan.  Even the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, in Paris, does not have a first state impression in its collection.  The second state, which is even rarer (possibly unique), does not have the remarque; while the third state has the letters and the address of La Revue Blanche.  Along with Le Divan Japonais, La Revue Blanche is unequivocally Lautrec’s most famous poster.  The unusually elegant Nabis lines, as well as the strong and simple colors, show the artist’s uncanny ability to distill the essence of his composition.

This poster had been commissioned by the Revue as its annual advertisement. It is in fact the portrait of Misia Natanson, seen skating in a long blue polka dot winter coat.  Misia was the wife of Thadée Natanson, co-editor of La Revue Blanche.  The famous 19th century novelist Marcel Proust said of Misia’s salon, that it was the epitome of society life in Paris at that time.  She succeeded in gaining the contributions of numerous avant-garde writers, composers and artists for the magazine.  Lautrec was a frequent visitor to the Natanson home from 1893, as were Paul Valéry, Octave Mirbeau, Alfred Jarry, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Félix Vallotton, Claude Debussy, and later, André Gide and the young Colette.  The remarque of the poster probably shows Liane de Lancy skating, at the Palais de Glace which was opened in 1884.  She was a famous and beautiful skater at that time.

Our copy was sold to a “Mr. Swope”, an American dealer or collector, on December 14, 1937 by the Galerie Sagot-Le Garec in Paris.  According to the Galerie archives (kept since 1903), this was the only one impression before letter that they had ever had, providing another proof of its rarity.  After all, Edmond Sagot, founder of this famous Parisian gallery in 1881, is thought to be the first art dealer to catalogue posters and offer them for sale.  Our impression later came in the hands of Peter Bartlett, who began collecting paintings, prints and posters in the early 1990s.  What started as a hobby quickly became a true passion for late 19th century artists. Over time though, Barlett’s passion became focused on the life and works of Toulouse-Lautrec.

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