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At the Cirque Fernando, Rider on a White Horse, 1887-1888

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

French, 1864-1901
Pastel and drained oil on board
23-5/8 x 31-1/4 in. (60 x 79.5 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
M.1978.13.2.P
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Toulouse-Lautrec lived and worked in Montmartre, a bohemian neighborhood at the northern frontier of Paris, from 1886 to 1898. Like the Moulin Rouge dance hall and the Chat Noir café, the Cirque Fernando was a fixture of Montmartre’s seedy entertainment scene and a favorite haunt of the artist. Here he portrayed an equestrian performer at the circus; with rouged cheeks and a scant skirt, she charges into the composition, riding bareback and clutching her horse’s mane. Leaving much of the cardboard support bare, the artist laid in his composition with bold, rapid strokes of pastel, reserving more careful work in wet peinture à l’essence for the rider’s costume and enigmatic expression.

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