woman leaning over and pouring water into a basin viewed from behind; the drawing is a preliminary sketch for the lithograph of the same subject in the series 'Elles' published in 1896

Woman at the Tub, 1896

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Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillanexpand_more  61.36.2

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec spent a great deal of time in the brothels of Paris, a marginalized realm where he felt at home. He sometimes rented rooms for stretches of a month in an effort to understand the real lives of prostitutes and present their ordinary humanity in his art, without guile or glamour or pretense. The profound influence of Japanese art on Lautrec is apparent in this drawing and lithograph showing a prostitute readying her bath. Following the Japanese disregard for perspective, the forms appear compressed in space. In the drawing, the insistent circling of the basin suggests a desire to tilt it upward; in the print, the colors and shapes become a kind of pattern. Lautrec focused emphatically on the woman’s wrist and hand, the only flesh we are allowed to see. Bending from elongated legs and led by her long drip of loose hair, her form echoes the fan loosely sketched on the wall above her, perhaps a reference to Japanese courtesans.

Details
Title
Woman at the Tub
Artist Life
1864–1901
Role
Artist
Accession Number
61.36.2
Provenance
Gabriel Astruc, Paris (in 1927). [Galerie St. Etienne, New York, 1947-55; sold to McMillan]; Putnam D. McMillan, Minneapolis (1955-d.1961; bequethed to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Dortu 1971, no.D.4.121
Curator Approved

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woman leaning over and pouring water into a basin viewed from behind; the drawing is a preliminary sketch for the lithograph of the same subject in the series 'Elles' published in 1896