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“La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Toulouse-Lautrec - La Goulue arrivant au Moulin Rouge

“La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

“La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec portrays the famous French can-can dancer and star of the Moulin Rouge, a popular cabaret in Paris, near Montmartre. She was referred to as the Queen of Montmartre.

La Goulue is depicted in the Moulin Rouge flanked by her sister to her right and her lover to her left. Toulouse-Lautrec made many paintings of this can-can dancer, a star performer known for her appetite.

La Goulue, the stage name of Louise Weber (1866 – 1929), was the most successful can-can dancer of her time. Weber became known as La Goulue (the glutton) because, as an adolescent, she was known for guzzling cabaret patrons’ drinks while dancing. 

She initially worked as a washerwoman until she was discovered. At age 16, she worked with her mother in the laundry, but behind her mother’s back began sneaking off to a dance hall dressed in a customer’s “borrowed” dress.

Having achieved fame and fortune, Weber parted company with the Moulin Rouge in 1895 and struck out independently. She invested a considerable amount of money into a show that traveled the country as part of a large fair, but her business venture was a failure.

La Goulue disappeared from the public eye and suffering from depression, and she drank heavily.

Destitute, La Goulue returned to Montmartre in 1928 where she eked out her living selling peanuts and cigarettes on a street corner near the Moulin Rouge. Few recognized the former Queen of Montmartre, and she died at age 62.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed unconventional individuals in an audacious manner, both honestly and thoughtfully.

The shallow space, cropping, and flat outlines reflect Japanese woodblock prints’ pictorial techniques, which Toulouse–Lautrec greatly admired. Toulouse-Lautrec considered this work to be the best of his dance-hall paintings.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge (“Red Mill”) is a cabaret in Paris, France. The original house, which burned down in 1915, was co-founded in 1889. Close to Montmartre in Paris, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof. 

Moulin Rouge is best known as the birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. Originally introduced as a seductive dance by courtesans, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own,

Today, the Moulin Rouge offers musical dance entertainment for visitors with its club’s decor still containing much of the romance of the 1880s and 1890s era.

La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge

  • Title:                La Goulue arriving at the Moulin Rouge
  • Alternative:     La Goulue Arriving at the Moulin Rouge with Two Women
  • Artist:              Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Year:                1892
  • Medium:         Oil on board
  • Dimensions:   31 1/4 x 23 1/4″ (79.4 x 59.0 cm)
  • Museum:        Museum of Modern Art, NYC – MOMA

Louise Weber (‘La Goulue’) – Famed Can Can Dancer of Le Moulin Rouge

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (1864 – 1901), also known as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, was a French painter, printmaker, caricaturist, and illustrator whose immersion in the colorful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 19th century.

Toulouse-Lautrec was born in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, where his parents were members of a wealthy and aristocratic family.

His mother and father were first cousins, his grandmothers were sisters, and unfortunately, he suffered from congenital health conditions sometimes attributed to a family history of inbreeding. 

Modern physicians attribute his condition to an unknown genetic disorder, sometimes known as Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome. His legs ceased to grow so that as an adult, he was extremely short (1.42 m or 4 ft 8 in). He developed an adult-sized torso while retaining his child-sized legs.

Physically unable to take part in many activities, Toulouse-Lautrec immersed himself in the arts from an early age. After initially failing college entrance exams, he passed his second attempt and completed his studies.

Later, when he sought independence from his mother, Toulouse-Lautrec was drawn to Montmartre, the area of Paris famous for its bohemian lifestyle and the haunt of artists, writers, and philosophers.

Studying art in the heart of Montmartre, it became an area he rarely left over the next 20 years.

When the Moulin Rouge cabaret opened, Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to produce a series of posters. Although he had a regular and comfortable income from his family, making banners offered him a living of his own.

Other artists looked down on the work, but he ignored them. The cabaret reserved a seat for him and displayed his paintings. Among the well-known works that he painted for the Moulin Rouge and other Parisian nightclubs are famous singers and dancers’ depictions.

Unfortunately, Toulouse-Lautrec was mocked for his short stature and physical appearance, which led him to abuse alcohol. In addition to his growing alcoholism, Toulouse-Lautrec also frequented prostitutes.

He was fascinated by their lifestyle and incorporated those characters into his paintings. In 1901, at the age of 36, he died from complications due to alcoholism and syphilis.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ‘La Goulue entering the Moulin Rouge’ 1892

A Virtual Tour of the Museum of Modern Art, (MoMA), NY

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ‘Moulin Rouge: La Goulue’ 1891


“Love is when the desire to be desired takes you so badly that you feel you could die of it.”
– Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Photo Credit: 1) By Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec via Wikimedia Commons 2) Museum of Modern Art [Public domain]

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