Saturday, 19 December 2009

Toulouse Lautrec: Dog Drawing in Pencil

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec most famously known for his paintings of cabaret dancers, has left behind more than 4,000 pencil drawings:

I have tried to depict the true and not the ideal. It is a defect, perhaps, for warts do not find favour in my eyes, and I like to embellish them with playful fur, to round them, and to put a shining end on them. I do not know if you bridle your pen, but when my pencil moves, it is neccessary to let go, or crash!... nothing more.
Toulouse Lautrec has also reportedly said: I am a pencil.


 Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Madame Palmyre with her dog, Pencil drawing, 1897

By the end of the 19th century, the bulldog with its short, muscular body and ugly face, had become the identity accessory of the lesbian, the prostitute, the woman writer. Madame Palmyre, a friend of French writer Colette and proprietor of the club La Souris was one of the first bulldog owners. In the world of painters, cafe owners, prostitutes, lesbians, coachmen, butchers and traders of Mont Martre and Moulin Rouge, the bulldog became "a gender and political marker and privileged survival companion for the manly woman". Madame Palmyre's dog, Bouboule, was immortalised by the pencil of Toulouse Lautrec.

See Donna Jeanne Haraway, When Species Meet, University of Minnesota Press 2008; Henry Petroski, The Pencil, Faber and Faber 2003.

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