Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Eldorado … Aristide Bruant Dans Son Cabaret – shocking wit

This charming man …

The satirical singer and poet Aristide Bruant was famed for songs that conjured fin-de-siècle Paris’s hoi polloi underworld for an upmarket cabaret crowd. In Toulouse-Lautrec’s iconic 1892 poster Eldorado … Aristide Bruant Dans Son Cabaret, he looks every inch the fearsome wit, who delighted his rich audience by insulting them.

All dressed up …

The wide-brimmed felt hat, cloak and red scarf was his signature style. He would don this eye-catching uniform and strut around Montmartre, thrilling to the sound of onlookers muttering about him.

So solid …

The poster, with its thick black and red – inspired by Japanese prints – and hand-drawn lettering, was originally deemed deeply shocking. Created for a performance at the polite Ambassadeurs club, its director turned it down.

Now you see me …

When Bruant threatened to walk, however, copies were pasted all over Paris. Today, it is Toulouse-Lautrec’s art that has stood the test of time, becoming better known than its subject.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Eldorado... Aristide Bruant dans son Cabaret, 1892.

Photograph: © Victoria and Albert Museum

Pin-Ups: Toulouse-Lautrec and the Art of Celebrity, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, to 20 January


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