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Art Curatorial

Questions of Provenance: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Three Cuirassiers, Part 2

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), Three Cuirassiers, 1879. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.149. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), Three Cuirassiers, 1879. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.149. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

The Milwaukee Art Museum’s current feature exhibition, Milwaukee Collects, includes more than 100 objects from nearly 50 private collections in the Greater Milwaukee area. It offers an opportunity to see treasures that are typically not on public view. At the same time, it reminds us that the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection is part of a long tradition of collecting in the community. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will explore the provenance of selected artworks in the collection and how they came to be here.

Last summer, we took a closer look at a little gem of a painting in the European collection: Three Cuirassiers by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901). It is a rare early oil painting by the great Post-Impressionist artist, done when Lautrec was only fourteen! So, how did the painting come to be in Wisconsin, at the Milwaukee Art Museum? Let’s take a closer look at the provenance trail.

Categories
Art Curatorial

From the Collection: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Three Cuirassiers, Part 1

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), Three Cuirassiers, 1879. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.149. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901), Three Cuirassiers, 1879. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1977.149. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

There is so much commentary surrounding the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901) and his ‘celebrity’. Certainly, with just at the mention of his name, shimmering glimpses of Parisian nightlife in come to mind. But what would surprise most, I think, is that he developed from an aristocratic youth into a bohemian artist whose images are anything but blue-blooded.

We can get a little peek into the early life of one of the best known painters of the post-Impressionist period with Three Cuirassiers (left), dated 1879. This small painting—in fact, you might have missed it!—is on display in the newly reopened European Galleries.

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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

From the Collection–Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge) by Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), 1903. Oil on canvas; 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.13. Photo credit P. Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), 1903. Oil on canvas; 15 1/8 x 17 5/8 in. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1958.13. Photo credit P. Richard Eells. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

The Museum’s current exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and his Contemporaries features a number of posters by Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947)—including the fantastic France-Champagne lithograph, a work that inspired the master Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to make ground-breaking posters.

Did you know that the Museum’s Permanent Collection has two paintings by Bonnard?

The paintings are gorgeous, and can be found on the upper level in the Bradley Collection Galleries.

One of the two paintings, Girl in Straw Hat (Femme au Chapeau Rouge), has long been one of my personal favorite artworks.  I suspect that Girl in Straw Hat was also one of Mrs. Bradley’s favorites, and there is good reason why.

Categories
Art Curatorial Exhibitions

Looking at “Posters of Paris” Through the Lens of Graphic Design

Jules Chéret, (French, 1836–1932), L'Horloge: Les Girard, 1875/1878 or 1880/1881. Color lithograph. Collection of Jim and Sue Wiechmann. Photo by John R. Glembin.
Jules Chéret, (French, 1836–1932), L’Horloge: Les Girard, 1875/1878 or 1880/1881. Color lithograph. Collection of Jim and Sue Wiechmann. Photo by John R. Glembin.

Even though the exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec & His Contemporaries may be billed as a fine art retrospective, it also serves as the largest and most extensive graphic design exhibition Milwaukee has ever seen. Featuring posters from the turn of the 20th century, Posters of Paris hearkens back to the roots of the profession. The artworks are situated at a time before “graphic design” was a legitimate term, but well after the world started recognizing the power of arresting visual communication.

And the line-up curator Mary Weaver Chapin has pulled together is impressive. The exhibition includes works by who I’d call the godheads of posters–Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to Leonetto Cappiello and Alphonse Mucha. For a casual observer, or a trained graphic designer, there’s no shortage of exuberant eye candy to indulge in.

Posters of Paris will likely leave you drooling for days.