Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris

April 7–August 4, 2019
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery (Gallery LG31)

Experience the celebrity culture of 19th-century Paris

Aristide Bruant snarls. Loïe Fuller swirls on stage in the “serpentine dance.” The critic Édouard Dujardin eyes Jane Avril as they listen to the vulgar songs of Yvette Guilbert. These are celebrities of 19th-century Paris made famous by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who captured the spectacle of the fin de siècle in evocative posters, prints, and paintings.

“Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” explores the celebrity culture of Lautrec’s time and the artist’s fascination with the personal lives of les stars as well as the roles that they played. With expressive lines and brazen colors, Lautrec depicted the defining gestures, costumes, and expressions of spectacular performers, many of whom were his personal friends and habitués of Montmartre, the focus of Parisian nightlife and a haven for acrobatic dancers and destitute students, reprobate aristocrats and middle-class pleasure-seekers.

The exhibition includes approximately 200 works and is composed of thematic sections highlighting Lautrec’s formal innovations, such as dramatic lighting effects and color combinations; the changing artistic and social landscapes of Paris, with scenes of the city by day and by night; cafés, cabarets, and theaters; and celebrities of the age. The display also incorporates works by Lautrec’s contemporaries Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, John Singer Sargent, James Jacques Joseph Tissot, and others—presenting him in the context of his heroes, peers, and followers. Organized by the MFA in partnership with the Boston Public Library, the exhibition draws on both institutions’ rich holdings, and includes key loans of paintings and graphic arts from public and private collections.

In the News

Forbes (7/1/19): "Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Transports Visitors At Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston To Turn Of 20th Century Paris"
Boston Magazine (6/3/19): "The MFA Is Free All Month If You Have a BPL Card"
Elle Decor (4/5/19): "This Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibition Will Change the Way You Look at Social Media"
The Boston Globe (4/5/19): "Beyond the hedonism, a fresh look at Toulouse-Lautrec, superstar"
The Wall Street Journal (4/4/19): "The Star-Maker of Paris"
Boston Magazine (2/27/19): "Boston Spring Arts Preview 2019"
Widewalls (3/30/19): "How Toulouse-Lautrec Immortalized The Stars of Paris"
The New York Times (4/27/19): "The Week in Arts"
Boston Magazine (4/11/19): "See the Extended Works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at the MFA"


Boston Public Library logo

Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Boston Public Library.

Encore Boston Harbor logo

Exhibition Sponsor

The Boston Foundation logo

Generous supporter

Additional support from the great-grandchildren of Albert H. Wiggin, the Cordover Exhibition Fund, and anonymous funders.