International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Childhood and Adolescent Drawings of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

Volume 6.3   1987



The fluent, expressive, if undisciplined, adventures of Lautrec's childhood pencil eventually combined with the formal skills learned from his teachers (Mantoy, Princeteau and Bormat) in Paris during adolescence. The seeds of the mature style were already beginning to be sown when the six-year-old scribbled his fleeting impressions of horses galloping at speed, and when as an invalid at thirteen he was given more time than even he may have wanted, to do nothing else but draw. The enthusiasms of childhood, such as the circus, remained lifelong interests. His preoccupation with caricature emerges constantly throughout his career as a artist. And his intense adolescent pursuit of character through portraiture comes to a brilliant peak in the luminous portrait of Miss Dolly, The English Girl from the Star, Le Havre, painted in oils in 1899. It remains surprising that such an alert young artist was so little affected in adolescence by the contemporary Impressionist movement that was emerging around him. It was not until he was in his early twenties that he moved noticeably beyond the artistic conventions of home and studio and into a more contentious world of avant-garde art. But by this time he had had as much as sixteen years of consistent experience in drawing, technique and expression, and possessed the consequent artistic authority to bring to the consideration of contemporary developments in art.