DP – Toulouse Lautrec.
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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colorful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded a collection of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec is known along with Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin as one of the greatest painters of the Post-Impressionist period. In a 2005 auction at Christie's auction house a new record was set when "La blanchisseuse", an early painting of a young laundress, sold for $22.4 million U.S.
The Comte and Comtesse themselves were first cousins (Henri's two grandmothers being sisters) and Henri suffered from a number of congenital health conditions attributed to this tradition of inbreeding. At the age of 13 Henri fractured his right thigh bone, and at 14, the left. The breaks did not heal properly. Modern physicians attribute this to an unknown genetic disorder, possibly pycnodysostosis (also sometimes known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome), or a variant disorder. His legs ceased to grow, so that as an adult he was only 1.52 m (5 ft) tall,[having developed an adult-sized torso, while retaining his child-sized legs, which were 0.70 m (27.5 in) long. After initially failing his college entrance exams, Henri passed upon his second attempt and completed his studies. During his stay in Nice, his progress in painting and drawing impressed Princeteau, who persuaded Henri's parents to let him return to Paris.
When the nearby Moulin Rouge cabaret opened its doors, Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to produce a series of posters. His mother had left Paris and while Henri still had a regular income from his family, making posters offered him a living of his own. Other artists looked down on the work, but Henri was so aristocratic he did not care. Thereafter, the cabaret reserved a seat for him, and displayed his paintings. Lautrec was often mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, and this led him to drown his sorrows in alcohol. At first this was just beer and wine, but his tastes quickly expanded. He was one of the notable Parisians who enjoyed American style cocktails, France being a nation of wine purists. The invention of the cocktail "Earthquake" or is attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec; a potent mixture containing absinthe and cognac. 1893 saw Lautrec's alcoholism begin to take its toll, and as those around him began to realize the seriousness of his condition there were rumors of a syphilis infection. Finally, in 1899, his mother and a group of concerned friends had him briefly institutionalized. He died in 1901 at the age of 36.