Dec 17, 2008 - Sale 2167

Sale 2167 - Lot 134

Estimate: $ 60,000 - $ 90,000
49x35 inches, 125x89 cm. Chaix, Paris.
Condition B+: repaired tears, restoration, overpainting and abrasions in margins; minor restoration in image. Bearing the artist's signature in pencil. Matted and framed.
Lautrec first met Jane Avril during a performance at the Moulin Rouge in the early 1890s. Of all the dancers, she was most intelligent and passionate about art and culture. Although his love for her was never physically consummated, they did become friends, and she often appeared in his paintings and drawings. This is the first of three posters he designed to promote her act. In his poster for the Divan Japonais, Lautrec shows a performer on stage over the orchestra pit. Here he shows a view of the performer from the orchestra pit, keeping the same dramatic diagonal that he used previously, with the slats of the stage and the sets in the wings in exaggerated perspective. "The poster offers a fascinating contrast of open and shut, public and private: Avril wears an impassive expression, her eyes closed in concentration, giving the viewer no entrée into her private thoughts; yet she contorts her lower body to display her long, black-stockinged legs and colorful skirts. The looming presence of a musician at the lower right, his hairy hand gripping the neck of the contrabass, suggests the sexual nature of this dance, but Avril seems aloof from licentious overtones" (Montmartre p. 139). In 1896, Maindron wrote in Les Affiches Illustres that Jane Avril looks incredibly sad, and must be dancing solely for the viewer's pleasure. Yet in her autobiography she mentions that she loved dancing, but that she could never smile, as she was too deeply focussed on her performance (Jane Avril p. 114). It is this little, intimate detail that Lautrec so perfectly captures. The poster appeared on the walls of Paris on June 3, 1893, with text that the printer hastily added announcing her performance at the "Jardin de Paris." Early copies of the poster were saved from this overprinting. Adriani cites an edition of 20 signed and numbered copies that were printed on thick vellum paper. Adriani 11 II, DFP II 828, Maitres 110 (var), Wine Spectator 41, Maitres 1900 p. 49 (var).