Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

The Two Friends


Not on display

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864–1901
Original title
Les Deux Amies
Oil paint on board
Support: 479 × 340 mm
frame: 750 × 600 × 95 mm
Bequeathed by Montague Shearman through the Contemporary Art Society 1940

Display caption

In the early 1890s Toulouse-Lautrec made many paintings and drawings inspired by life in Parisian brothels. He is known to have spent days at a time in the brothels, where he was accepted by the prostitutes as a friend and confidant. During these periods he was able to make numerous studies of the women in casual, everyday poses, as they waited for their clients. This painting seems to be a study for part of a larger painting known as 'In the Salon', in the large collection of works by this artist at the Musée d'Albi in France.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901

N05142 Les Deux Amies (The Two Friends) 1894

Inscribed 'HTL' (in monogram) b.l.
Oil on millboard, 18 7/8 x 13 3/8 (48 x 34)
Bequeathed by Montague Shearman through the CAS 1940
Prov: Laugier; Paleseau; with Clovis Sagot, Paris; with Paul Cassirer, Berlin; with Reid and Lefevre, London, 1930; with Georges Bernheim, Paris, 1936; with Reid and Lefevre, London, 1936; Montague Shearman, London, 1936
Exh: Exposition Rétrospective de l'Oeuvre de H. de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) , Galerie Manzi, Joyant, Paris, June-July 1914 (104), lent by M. Sagot; Ein Jahrhundert französischer Zeichnung, Paul Cassirer, Berlin, December 1929-January 1930 (78); La Peinture Française aux XIXème et XXème Siècles, van Wisselingh, Amsterdam, April-May 1931 (55, repr.); French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, January 1934 (113); Art Gallery, Toronto, February 1934 (113); Art Association, Montreal, March 1934 (113); French Paintings by the Impressionists and Modern Artists, W. Scott and Sons, Montreal, December 1934 (18); Nineteenth and Twentieth Century French Paintings, Boyer Galleries, Philadelphia, April 1936 (2); Corot to Cézanne, Lefevre Gallery, London, June 1936 (26); Milestones in French Painting, Lefevre Gallery, London, June 1939 (17); The Montague Shearman Collection, Redfern Gallery, London, April-May 1940 (12, repr. in colour); The Tate Gallery's Wartime Acquisitions, National Gallery, London, April-May 1942 (137, repr.); A Selection from the Tate Gallery's Wartime Acquisitions, CEMA touring exhibition, September 1942-September 1943 (98); Acquisitions of the CAS, Tate Gallery, September-October 1946 (35a); Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901, Tate Gallery, February-March 1961 (53)
Lit: Gustave Coquiot, Lautrec (Paris 1913), p.88; Gustave Coquiot, Lautrec (Paris 1921), p.111; Maurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1864-1901: Peintre (Paris 1926), p.285; M.G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son Oeuvre (Paris 1971), Vol.3, P.549, p.336, repr. p.337 (dated 1894); Denys Sutton and G.M. Sugana, The Complete Paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec (London 1973), No.374, p.111, repr. p.110 (dated 1894?)
Repr: Kunst und Künstler, XXVIII, 1930, p.193; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery (London 1958), p.129 in colour

One of a series of pictures of Parisian 'maisons closes' on which Lautrec was working during the years 1892 to 1895. He retired for days at a time to the brothels, where he was accepted by the girls as a friend and confidant, and where he had exceptional opportunities to study the nude in movement - not the professional models of the studios but women closer to nature, unselfconscious in their actions. This series culminated in a larger painting 'In the Salon' of 1894 (Dortu P.560) now in the Musée d'Albi, which shows girls waiting for clients in the salon of the brothel in the Rue des Moulins. The present work is probably an early study for the right-hand side of this picture, though there is no more than a general similarity. A related painting of the same title and size in the Musée d'Albi (Dortu P.550) has a further figure on the right - a standing girl cut by the edge of the picture - and may represent the next stage in the development of this composition.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.727-8, reproduced p.727

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