London, 20 September 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA)
“Toulouse Lautrec and Jane Avril: beyond the Moulin Rouge”, on show from 16 June to 18 September at Courtauld Gallery, attracted record numbers. According to the gallery’s press release, 97,218 visitors came to see the exhibition; the highest number ever registered.
August was apparently a record month, with 32,675 people passing through the doors to see François Toulouse Lautrec’s (1864–1901) oeuvre. The exhibition explored the relationship between the latter and the dancer Jane Avril (1868-1943), one of the stars of the Moulin Rouge in the 1890s: “Known for her alluring style and exotic persona, her fame was assured by a series of dazzlingly inventive posters designed by the artist (…) Avril became an emblematic figure in Lautrec’s world of dancers, cabaret singers, musicians and prostitutes. However, she was also a close friend of the artist and he painted a series of striking portraits of her which contrast starkly with his exuberant posters.”
Curated by Nancy Ireson, the exhibition gathered paintings, posters and prints from various international collections. The British press has largely welcomed the gallery’s show, with The Independent describing it as “one of the best small exhibitions of the year.”
London, 17 June 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Nicknamed “La Mélinite” for her remarkably dynamic dancing style, Jane Avril (1868-1943) was one of the stars of the Moulin Rouge in 1890. Renowned for her individual style and exotic personality, she became famous after Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1964-1901) depicted her in his posters. The Courtauld Gallery is presenting “Toulouse Lautrec and Jane Avril: beyond the Moulin Rouge” until 18 September.
The event will focus on a selection of paintings, posters and prints from an international collection celebrating a particularly creative partnership which fascinated the whole of Paris.
As opposed to Toulouse-Lautrec, whose family was noble, Jane or Jeanne Beaudon had a difficult childhood and left home at an early age. She was then admitted at the Salpêtrière hospital to be treated for hysteria. Jane participated enthusiastically in the annual Bal des Folles, hosted by the hospital. She found her vocation at the age of twenty and was subsequently hired at the Moulin Rouge as a professional dancer.
Adopting the stage name of Jane Avril, she was an inspired stage performer and became as famous as dancers such as La Goulue (the Glutton), Grille d’Egout (Sewer-grate) and Nini les-Pattes-en-l’air (Nini legs-aloft). Lautrec was fascinated by her dancing and dedicated posters to her. Jane Avril was very grateful to him.
The exhibition will thus explore the complex personae of the two friends via Lautrec’s vivid depictions of the nineteenth century Montmartre.