French artist Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec Monfa was born on November 24, 1864. The “de” shows his family was noble, but it doesn’t show that his family had lost its fortune and was so in-bred that Toulouse-Lautrec was born with multiple congenital deformities. His younger brother was even worse off and died in childhood. When he was 13, he fractured both thigh bones and ceased growing normally. This genetic problem is now known as Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome. As a result, his adult height was only 5’1”, with an adult sized torso and the legs of an adolescent.
Immersion in art was his salvation and the bohemian life in Montmartre was his heaven. His life, and thus his art, became inextricably intertwined with the Moulin Rouge. He was commissioned to paint a series of posters and when they reserved a seat for him, he more or less moved in. Toulouse-Lautrec is associated with Post-Impressionism and Art Nouveau. He could capture a person’s entire personality in a silhouette. When not at the nightclub, he lived in brothels where he became the friend and confidant of the prostitutes. He died of complications of alcoholism and syphilis shortly before his 37th birthday, on September 9, 1901. His mother opened a museum in his honor in his birthplace of Albi. Toulouse-Lautrec was highly prolific and his works sell for millions today.
Today’s expression, “L’automne est le printemps de l’hiver” (lowtum eh luh prahntahm duh leever) is a Toulouse-Lautrec quotation that means “Autumn is the spring of winter.” As winter closes in, I guess it’s a good reminder that’s it’s all a matter of perspective if something is ending or beginning.