Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Woman with an Umbrella

Woman with an Umbrella
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Portraiture, Painting, Gouache, watercolour and tempera on cardboard, 76.7x57.5 cm
Origin: France, 1889

Berthe, who came from Brittany to make a living in Paris, wound up in the Green Parrot whorehouse that Lautrec used to visit. It was not hard to persuade her to pose. Berthe looks as if she dressed up for a formal portrait, with an expensive hat of fine straw, an umbrella, and a gown with lace trimming. She undoubtedly wants to look like a lady of society, and she almost succeeds, except the artist could not resist adding irony, however sympathetic. Berthe looks as if she is part of a masquerade here. Notice how she clutches the umbrella; there is none of the finesse about the hands of this daughter of a peasant that would have been characteristic of a lady of a higher society. But seldom can such wide-open eyes, shining with genuine interest in life, be seen in Lautrec's bordello dwellers.

Style: Post-Impressionism
Source of entry: formerly in the collection of Otto Krebs, Holzdorf
Transferred from Germany after World War II

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