Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats



Paris: A City of Extremes

Chansons and cabaret



One finds great luxury here and, at the same time, the greatest filth, noise, shouting, fighting and dirt -more than one can imagine. One vanishes from sight in Paris - and that is convenient because no one is interested in the life one is leading.

Frederic Chopin, с 1831


At the heart of Montmartre: The Moulin Rouge

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Outrageous and lascivious: Chilperic (Mlle Marcelle Lender Dansant le Pas du Bolero), 1896


Paris, a happy-go-lucky place. The pianist and composer Frederic Chopin came to this conclusion in 1831, shortly after arriving m the Seine metropole as a Polish emigre. "You can amuse yourself here, you can laugh — you can delight in all things. And no one gives you dirty looks, for here everyone does what they please." Half a century later, Montmartre was looked on as the centre of dissolute life in Paris. A quartier on the urban fringes, Montmartre had only recently become part of the city. Where pious nuns had once prayed and decent wine-growers earned an honest, hardworking wage, beggars, prostitutes and drug dealers were now in abundance. They were followed by singers, writers and penniless painters, all of them unknown. This dubious artists' colony was to turn Montmartre into a household name, even though its fame was of a decidedly dubious nature. Most of the money earned there fell into the pockets of pimps, pickpockets and streetwalkers. Montmartre was shunned by the bourgeoisie and by most successful artists.

The poet Aristide Bruant was one artist who managed to make a living there. Born in 1851, he left the local lycee at the age of seventeen because his family faced financial ruin. Working as a goldsmith and on the railway, he became intimately acquainted with destitution and the underworld. His experience provided the material for the many chansons he wrote and sang, making him one of the first French chansonniers as we know them today. After founding his own cabaret in Montmartre, where his mocking of the public was met with outrage, he made the acquaintance of a young painter in 1886. A scion of the aristocracy, the twenty-two-year-old Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated by Montmartre. As Bruant's friend, he became the leading chronicler of Pans nightlife. Painting in bars and brothels, dance-halls and cabarets, he also found time to draw for a gazette Bruant had launched and illustrated the poet's chansons when they were published. The public got to know Toulouse-Lautrec through his posters. He sold his first one to the Moulin Rouge music-hall. Well-founded criticism was offset by a strong resistance to Toulouse-Lautrec's style of poster. When Bruant was planning to appear at Les Ambassadeurs, a cafe with concerts in the centre of the city, the stage manager was appalled by the poster designed for the occasion. He considered it a cheap advertisement and a "nasty smear" on his establishment. Bruant however, already a celebrated eccentric, simply refused to appear in the cafe if the poster was not displayed — a poster that is now one of the most famous in the world.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Les Ambassadeurs, Aristide Bruant
Coloured lithograph, posrer


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