Table of contents:
- Diagnostic guess
- Transformation into a "dwarf"
- To glory bypassing fate
- In invisible webs of spiders
- Painful mechanisms of creativity
Video: Toulouse-Lautrec: Great Artist Of Small Stature - Great And Terrible
During his life, there was a pathological formation of the personality of the deficient type, which was based on the boy's reaction to the realization of his physical inferiority. With this type of development, a reduced background of mood prevails, limitation of social contacts, withdrawal into the world of internal experiences (“pseudo-personality”). Alcoholism was secondary. If the initial resistance of Lautrec to alcohol can be explained by the biochemical individuality of the organism, then the subsequent alcohol dependence and the severe course of the disease are already a consequence of the initially high alcohol tolerance, affective disorders of the depressive circle, as well as the subconscious desire for death (alcoholism is a slow form of suicide).
The fate of the French painter and graphic artist, one of the greatest masters of post-impressionism, Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec, due to pathologically burdened heredity, turned out to be extremely evil and brought him a lot of suffering. On the other hand, in his work he was a happy person, his canvases are appreciated and are exhibited in the best museums in the world.
The childhood of a talented artist, perhaps, will not be envied. Born into a wealthy and noble family, Henri fully knew his father's backstage intrigues, from which the boy wanted to fence himself off. Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec married his cousin. His personality seemed more than strange. The count loved to dress up as a cowboy, Circassian, Scotsman, could put on the chain mail of a crusader or go out to a family dinner in a plaid and a ballet tutu. He was known in society as an eccentric person.
At a very young age, Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec married his cousin, and soon the child was born a lot of trouble. It is believed that marriages of close relatives, common in the aristocratic environment, affect the health of their offspring. According to other medical hypotheses, consanguineous marriage could not have caused the illness of Henri, the boy was frail and painful from birth. However, the role of heredity is convincing: one of the cousins of the future painter was a dwarf. Not only Anri's parents were cousins, but also his uncle and aunt. Together they gave birth to sixteen children, four of whom, including Henri, were dwarfs. This already looks like a pattern.
Transformation into a "dwarf"
The boy was constantly haunted by misfortune. At the age of 13, Anri, getting up from a chair, fell and suffered a fracture of the left hip. 15 months later, there was a fracture of the neck of the right hip. After that, the crippled legs stopped growing and remained 70 cm long throughout their lives. So he became a cripple with partially atrophied legs and was forced to move in a wheelchair. The father, frustrated by the ugly appearance of his son, paid less and less attention to the boy. Henri spent his childhood and adolescence in the family estate, where his mother took care of him.
Since the size of his torso was normal, the figure on short legs looked very ridiculous. The head seemed disproportionately large, and it seemed that the body of an adult man was moving on children's legs. This disparity has increased over the years. Moreover, ugly transformations took place with the face: the nose grew fat, the lips protruded, and the lower lip hung over the sloping chin. And the words that the deformed mouth uttered were distorted by a lisp, sounds bounced one on top of the other, he swallowed syllables and, while talking, spattered saliva.
The family barely endured the misfortune that had befallen her. A physical defect made it impossible for Henri to take his proper place. The only son of a noble aristocratic family could not become a military man, attend balls and go hunting. The hope that the young aristocrat would find a worthy match for himself and be able to continue the family line also became illusory.
Lautrec's disease can be attributed to the group of polyepiphysis dysplasias. According to others, the cause of Henri's small stature was osteopetrosis (painful thickening of the bone), which proceeds in a mild form.
To glory bypassing fate
In adulthood, Lautrec's growth barely reached 150 cm, but in those days people were on average a dozen centimeters shorter than our contemporaries, the artist was not considered a dwarf (with such growth they were even called to serve in the army).
Physical defects did not in any way temper the young man's passionate dreams and sexual attraction to the opposite sex. He was endowed with extraordinary sensuality and over the years turned into a real hunchback Don Juan, who could easily boast an extensive love list. But all these thousand female names and without him were carefully registered with the police prefecture. Debauchery, the scattered lifestyle that Lautrec led himself and in which he involved his friends, as well as the misanthropy caused by his physical disabilities and the consciousness of moral decline, undoubtedly deformed his psyche. He often exclaimed, not without sarcasm: "Oh, I would like to see a woman whose lover is uglier than me!"
Once Lautrec fell in love with the actress and dancer Marcel Lander. Twenty evenings in a row, he bought himself a ticket to the theater, where she then performed, each time taking the place closest to the stage. When asked why he was doing this, the artist replied: “I come here specifically to look at her back. Take a good look and you will be convinced that you have never seen anything more beautiful in your life. " The sketches that he made in the theater were later embodied in his paintings. It is worth noting that he was very fond of beautiful female noses, since with a small stature, the nose was usually the first thing he could see on a woman's face.
In life, the artist was a calm and benevolent person, and in his "normal" state, during his short life, he did not offend anyone by word or deed. But Henri drank and drank a lot, and under the influence of alcohol he became uncontrollable, and the fact that he never dealt with the law was simply amazing. However, there could be another perfectly valid explanation: Lautrec was still a descendant of one of the most famous and ancient aristocratic families in France.
Due to his ugliness, the well-born Parisian was sentenced to alienation and often began to drink as soon as he woke up, without parting with the bottle until evening. Once Henri with "secret pride" discovered that he was a "born drunkard", as he could swallow an amazing amount of alcohol without noticeable consequences. And I experienced an obscure satisfaction from this discovery. Addiction to alcohol by the age of 30 turned the artist into a sick person and gradually brought him to a psychiatric hospital, and alcoholic psychoses deformed his personality. If drunkenness, on the one hand, and brought him comfort, then, on the other, undoubtedly contributed to premature death.
Cognac helped him overcome his fear of the brothel. The artist began to regularly visit brothels after breaking up with another mistress. And since 1894, he just began to live in one of these "luxurious houses on Melnits Street." In this, and then in other brothels, Lautrec spent almost the rest of his life. Such an unusual place of residence gave him the opportunity to observe the natural, without posing, movements of a naked female body and immediately draw, filling out numerous notebooks. A rather thorny path, bypassing the villainous fate, the artist walked to his future glory.
By the end of the 19th century, the prevalence of syphilis was so high that, according to some estimates, about 15% of the population of Europe were infected with it. It is not surprising that celebrities were among the victims of the "French disease".
In invisible webs of spiders
Alcoholism along with syphilis, which he contracted from one of the prostitutes, undermined the artist's strength. Lautrec suffered from severe insomnia, as a result of which, against the backdrop of endless drunkenness, frightening hallucinations and persecution mania developed. His behavior became more and more inadequate, he was increasingly subjected to attacks of insanity. In the summer of 1897, he fired a revolver at imaginary spiders; in the fall of the following year, he dreamed that the police were chasing him on the street, and he hid for a long time with friends.
In February 1899, "with a terrible attack of delirium tremens," the mother placed her son in a psychiatric clinic. But a few months after leaving the hospital, the artist threw away brushes and paints and again began to drink a lot. He was restrained only by the company of Paul Vio, a distant relative, a large, athletic man who, due to a stomach illness, could not afford a drop of alcohol and, at the request of his family, watched Anri, keeping him from drinking.
But systematic drunkenness sooner or later shows its account. At the end of 1901, after suffering a stroke, Lautrec was "paralyzed." Surely the condition was aggravated by the development of alcoholic polyneuropathy. In other words, the artist quickly became a wreck and an immobile invalid.
The mother took her son to Malrome Castle. Coming out of a state of apathy, he tried to work, but paralysis more and more constrained movement. Anri moved only in a wheelchair and was almost deaf. To save him from exhaustion, he had to be force-fed. Before his death, the master spoke very little. Only sometimes he raved with wide open eyes.
Painful mechanisms of creativity
Henri developed a passion for drawing early. Mother encouraged and tried to develop these abilities. Deprived of the opportunity to walk and run for months, the boy drew with pleasure. "Just think about it! I would never paint if my legs were a little longer,”he said, not without reason. Painting helped Lautrec overcome despair.
More than anything, Toulouse-Lautrec was afraid of loneliness. He escaped from him first by painting, then by women and alcohol. The constant themes of his canvases are prostitutes, portraits of friends, dance scenes. The world of the Parisian "bottom" was depicted in plot paintings and portraits without moralizing, with Lautrec's inherent nervous vigilance and stinging irony.
A talented artist made his own ugliness a part of his art. Critics argue that serious illness had another impact on his art: after 1893, there was a clear tendency to remove the legs from the models so that only the heads and torsos remained in the frame. Probably, this technique made it possible to exclude that part of the body that he himself preferred not to think about. Many critics argue that it was a peculiar hatred of his own body that made him seek and depict what was the most ugly and unpleasant in his environment.
Perhaps it was precisely because Lautrec was deeply offended by fate that he hated humanity and tried for several years of his creative life to caricature all those who served him as a model.
The artist has always observed an immutable rule - he never worked in a state of intoxication. And since every year he drank more and more, then his paintings became less and less. In 1897, he wrote only about fifteen canvases, but not so long ago he created a lot of them. Recognized during his lifetime, the master wrote less and less, moving from one bar to another.
In the last years of his life, the paintings became gloomy and melancholic. In art, the sensations of pain and gloomy anxiety came to the fore. The color took on a dramatic intensity, while the line lost its flexibility and expressive power. Many researchers see in his latest paintings a manifestation of creative decline. Critics' assumptions about the influence of the artist's physical deformity on the features of painting are not devoid of psychological justification.