Henri Toulouse-Lautrec | The White Horse Gazelle

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec | The White Horse Gazelle

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. The White Horse Gazelle – a glance on the painting. The 1881 depiction of the horse by the French artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec belongs to the collection of the Albertina in Vienna and was exhibited at the Vienna Kunstforum in 2015.

The portrait of the horse Gazelle appears unique in the exhibition curated on the occasion of the artist’s 150th birthday in the year 2015, which shows a colourful cross-section of the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, who is particularly known for his poster art and depictions of women from the Parisian milieu. The portrait of the horse appears comparatively quiet in the midst of pictures that show the hustle and bustle of nightlife in the big city and lively activities in the countryside showing people who seem to be tossing thoughts back and forth.

Only with few colours, the painter shows a horse nibbling at the wood of the stable door: dark brown tones showing the room, within the animal with its light coat is silhouetted against light and shadow in hues that alternate from blue to green. The painting provides calmness to the viewer, especially when viewed from a greater distance. The horse’s ears seem attentive – ears slightly pricked, even the eyes with finely depicted eyelashes seem to perceive the surroundings.

The White Horse Gazelle, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
The White Horse Gazelle, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, 1881, oil on canvas

Growing up on the country estates of his wealthy noble family, an environment with many horses was not unfamiliar to Toulouse-Lautrec. Even at a young age, Henri painted portraits of people and animals, especially horses – hunting, carriages, situations in the stable. We can only speculate about the horse Gazelle: possibly a racehorse, perhaps owned by a noble rider. In any case, it inspired Toulouse-Lautrec to paint this natural-looking horse portrait. Actually a snapshot, transposed into oil on canvas.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born on 24 November 1864 in Albi in southern France and grew up in castles near Toulouse and Montpellier. He later studied painting in Paris where he also had a studio from 1885 and made his home around Montmatre in the midst of Parisian bohemia. Around 1890, Toulouse-Latrec literally became famous overnight when his large-format posters of the cultural life in Belle Époque Paris were hung all over the city. Burdened with a hereditary disease, Henri ailed throughout his life. After suffering from alcoholism, and possibly as a result, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died at his mother’s estate in 1901, aged just 36.

The life and work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is documented in the museum of the same name in his birthplace Albi.


Die Kunstreiterin im Zirkus Fernando, 1888, Öl auf Leinwand
Im Zirkus… 1899, Kreide auf stark texturiertem Papier
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien (c) leisure.at/Christian Jobst
Graf Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec lenkt einen Vierspänner, 1881, Öl auf Leinwand
3. September 2019 Off