Toulouse-Lautrec Museum – Albi, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

The Brilliant Works of Albi’s Most Famous Son

One of Europe’s best single-artist museums, Musee Toulouse-Lautrec has the largest concentration of works by the eponymous artist. Born in 1864 in Albi la Rouge (whose nickname comes from the pink brick and terra-cotta produced locally), the crippled and tormented Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was from an aristocratic family that was horrified when Henri took off to immerse himself in the nocturnal fringes of Paris’s demimonde.

Fans of Toulouse-Lautrec will want to spend hours with more than 1,000 of his paintings of the prosti­tutes, cabaret dancers, and cafe dwellers dis­played within the aus­tere Palais de la Berbie, a former bishop’s resi­dence built in 1265 as a fortress. An extensive representation of the famous posters that marked the beginning of an entirely new art form is also here, vicious caricatures of the pretensions of those days.

The palais was dedicated to the Belle Epoque painter in 1922, following his death in 1901. Centuries of intermarriage and a form of dwarfism are believed to be the cause of Lautrec’s physical suffering, but what colors and characters he produced!

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