European Art: 19th Century

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The Streetwalker (formerly Portrait of a Prostitute), 1892-1894

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

French, 1864-1901
Oil on cardboard
24-3/4 x 19-1/8 in. (62.8 x 48.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Toulouse-Lautrec was friendly with the inhabitants of the brothels in Montmartre, and he made hundreds of paintings and drawings of the women as they relaxed, slept, or were otherwise uninvolved in their profession. The sitter's expression here is ambiguous. Lautrec has achieved a psychological alienation in which the subject and the viewer make no social contact. Depending on the point of view of the spectator, she can be read as a bored, aging, sympathetic prostitute, or a model quietly posing for an artist. Only the unmade bed gives a clue as to the surroundings.

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