I wasn’t really that impressed with Toulouse-Lautrec’s stuff, possibly because he usually appears in collections of the best of the impressionists, and frankly, he doesn’t quite cut the mustard. But looking at this catalogue for a 1982 exhibition around Japan, I have to admit he wasn’t bad.
The book itself features 115 sketches and paintings and although it was in French and Japanese, just following the progression of his work from 1879 to 1900,, you could get a sense of a very capable artist who was finding his own way to express the world around him. The trouble was that his world was of bars and brothels so it is grimly fitting that he should die of alcoholism and syphilis at the age of 37.
Had he lived longer he might well have created a masterpiece, although he has his place in history. The French ambassador to Japan no less saw fit to write an introduction in this catalogue so I guess he has come up in the world since his death. Below are some pictures from the book I liked.
No. 25 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2019.
* * *
Patrick Sherriff publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction about Japan and featuring an original painting or sketch. He lives in Abiko, Japan, with his wife and two daughters.