- Museum number
Object: Frontispice pour 'Elles'
Frontispiece: woman in long gown, seen from behind in bedroom and dressing her hair, top hat seen on chair to left; from a series of ten lithographs. 1896
Crayon, brush and spatter lithograph, printed in dark olive-green ink
- Production date
Height: 535 millimetres
Width: 410 millimetres (max.)
- Curator's comments
- (Text from 'From Manet to Toulouse-Lautrec', BM 1978, cat.119-131)
This impression in monochrome was used for the cover. Later states printed in colours were used both as the frontispiece and poster for the series 'Elles', a set of ten lithographs (Paris: Gustave Pellet, 1896). Wittrock gives the size of the sheet for the cover as 680 x 1100mm, as it was folded in halves. This impression has been cut down by a later owner.
The set of lithographs by Lautrec entitled 'Elles' contained a cover, frontispiece and ten plates. It was published by Gustave Pellet in an edition of 100 on specially made paper with the watermark 'G. Pellet -T. Lautrec'. The price was 300 francs, or 35 for the individual prints. All the sets are supposed to have had each plate numbered and initialled by Pellet, but this was not often done. This set, although the cover is initialled and numbered 72, has no marks on the individual plates. It was bought by Dodgson in November 1925 from J. H. de Bois in Haarlem, and came to the Department with his bequest. The titles of the plates have been supplied by later cataloguers.
Elles has always been regarded as Lautrec's greatest achievement in colour lithography, and shows a total mastery of the medium. His use of a coloured toneplate is apparently quite new, as is the way in which the images are bled off at the edges.
The series is the outcome of the many weeks between 1892 and 1895 which Lautrec spent living in various Parisian brothels (cf. Joyant 1926, pp.149 ff.); on one occasion he gave his address at one of these to the famous dealer Durand-Ruel who was, as Lautrec intended, most shocked when he arrived for the appointment in his carriage. The choice of subjects is remarkable; only two of the images give a clue that the setting is in a brothel, and it would seem that Lautrec was above all attempting to convey a routine of everyday life. A reviewer in 'La Plume' (1896, p.305) described them as 'ébauches et croquis d'une cruauté d'exactitude merveilleuse'.
A set of 'Elles' acquired by the Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch, most likely when he was living in Paris, is today in the Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo, see Giulia Bartrum 'Edvard Munch: love and angst', London, 2019, pp. 89-91, no.39, and p.203.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1978 Mar-Oct, BM, From Manet to Toulouse-Lautrec cat. no.119
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- According to Dodgson's card, he purchased the entire 'Elles' series on 10 November 1925 from J.H. de Bois in Haarlem for fl.600.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number