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Jane Avril dancing, 1893

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Artist Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Marie This study for the poster Jane Avril au Jardin de Paris shows a figure in an identical pose to that used by Louis Anquetin in his painting La Danse au Moulin Rouge.¬†There also exists a photograph of Jane Avril in which she appears in the same attitude, ‘because she played the prude, giving herself modest airs’, in the words of Arthur Symons, who relished the air of ‘depraved virginity’ of the dancer who fascinated Lautrec. Jane Avril could never have maintained the pose for any length of time, so it is likely that Lautrec worked from this photograph, a technique he was to adopt again for the poster Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine. This was by no means unusual; other illustrators who depicted caf√©-concerts performers also relied on publicity photograph.
In the transition from photograph to painting and then to poster, Lautrec has modified the dancer’s expression. In the photograph she is wearing a broad smile and gives an impression of ease; Lautrec’s brush adds a sense of intense effort, which tightens Jane Avril’s features in a way that contrasts sharply with the image conveyed by here publicity. This sketch bears witness to the artists dazzling technique and speed of working. The colours are not mixed. Drastically thinned with turpentine, they are brushed straight on to the support, without a trace of pentimento or an alteration.




Institution Private collection
Medium Gouache and charcoal on paper
Dimensions 99 x 72 cm













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