paintings by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
He was born to a noble family. There is evidence of inbreeding in his family genealogy, including his mother. As a teenager, Henri broke both his right and his left femur (the bones in his thighs). Neither healed properly, and medical science of the time being what it was, an accurate diagnosis is difficult to say. Basically, as an adult, Henri had the torso of an adult man, and the legs of an undersized boy. It was possibly a complication from his childhood accidents, possibly a result of his family’s inbreeding, or just a straight up form of dwarfism related to growth hormones. Regardless, his life was not easy. He dealt with his physical misfortunes by drinking quite heavily, and basically living full time at a brothel in the area of the famous Moulin Rouge burlesque club in Paris.
Let’s not mince words. He was a sodden drunk with dwarfism that spent all day and all night in the company of strippers and prostitutes.
When he wasn’t piss drunk or balls deep, he passed his time by sketching, drawing, and painting. Some of his best sketches were done on the table cloths and placemats of the Moulin Rouge. Life forced a status of physical limitations upon Henri. He became possibly the best gesture and figure artist of the 19th century.
He died young of a combination of syphilis and alcoholism. Go to the Met in NYC. They have a whole exhibit dedicated to how good this guy was at rendering body language and casual conversations.
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