Musée d'Orsay: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Justine Dieuhl

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Justine Dieuhl

Justine Dieuhl
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Justine Dieuhl
Huile sur carton
H. 74 ; L. 58 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR

Justine Dieuhl

The palette used in this painting is typical of the portraits Lautrec painted in the garden of père Forest, a piece of land used for archery at the corner of the boulevard de Clichy and the rue Caulaincourt. The entangled plants and trees appear to isolate the characters in an almost neutral space. Lautrec uses his usual blue tinted with violet for the dress and hat. The model's neckerchief, a bright red, enhances the greens in the background through an interplay of complementary colours.  

Seated facing the artist, in the centre of the painting, the subject, Justine Dieuhl, radiates a striking presence. She sits imposingly on a rather unstable folding chair. Her somewhat stiff position is a little awkward, and her broad, clumsy hands confirm this impression. As if viewed from above, her body is simply defined. The wide, blue lines describing her dress add substance; only the shape of her knees is indicated by more distinct, gently rounded lines. Her complicated hairstyle is so high that it barely fits into the painting.  

The majority of women painted by Lautrec in this garden, professional models or prostitutes, were known only by their first names: Berthe or Gabrielle, etc. Although we know Justine's surname, no details about her life have been preserved. This is the only portrait in which Lautrec seeks to convey the character's psychological makeup. This is achieved in a gentle and typically humorous fashion.

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