High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse Lautrec

With my passion for Paris, cabarets, the Belle Époque, and Montmartre, visiting this exhibition was a must for me. To see the vibrant world of Toulouse-Lautrec’s Bohemian Paris, where every brushstroke pulsates with the heartbeat of the city’s nightlife.

It’s like taking a walk through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre with it’s air thick with the scent of artistic fervor and frivolities of the demi-monde.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecHenry de Tolouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril, 1893

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, and illustrator who recorded details of the bohemian lifestyle of Paris during the late 19th century. This print was commissioned by the artist’s life-long friend Jane Avril to advertise her cabaret show at the Jardin de Paris in 1893. Toulouse-Lautrec has captured Avril doing the can-can, one of her signature dance moves, echoing the vertical thrust of the double-bass gripped by an unseen musician in the foreground.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden MuchaAlphonse Mucha, Job – La Dame Blonde,1897

Looking at these paintings, it’s easy to imagine yourself amidst the swirling skirts of can-can dancers, the dimly lit corners of the legendary ‘Chat Noir,’ and the electric atmosphere of the Moulin Rouge.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse Lautrec

But it’s not just about Toulouse-Lautrec, it’s a celebration of the masters of Montmartre who dared to defy convention and embrace the bohemian spirit. From Steinlen’s iconic Tournée du Chat Noir to Alphonse Mucha’s seductive advert for Ruinart champagne, each piece is a tantalizing glimpse into the soul of Belle Époque Paris.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Mucha Ruinart ChampagneAlphonse Mucha, Champagne Ruinart, 1897

Demonstrating audacity and innovation in its choices, the Maison Ruinart commissioned the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha to design its first advertisement in 1896. Mucha’s poster exudes opulence in every detail.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden MuchaAlphonse Mucha, La Dame aux camelias (The lady of the Camellias), 1896

La Dame aux Camelias was Sarah Bernardt’s most famous role. She performed it over 1000 times.

Sarah Bernhardt considered La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas to be the key drama in her repertoire. Bernhardt played the title role, the courtesan Camille who is dying of consumption and releases her lover from his promise to marry her.

Mucha captures the tradgedy of the tale with shocking impact. The grief-stricken heroine leans wearily against a balustrade and is flanked by a background of silver stars. In her hair is a white camelia. Another camelia, this time symbolising death, is held up by a hand at the bottom of the poster. This smooth-stemmed plant contrasts with the thorny roses piercing the hearts at the top of the design, evoking the play’s principal theme – love’s ultimate sacrifice.

This poster became one of Bernhardt’s favourites for obvious reasons.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Au concert, Ault & Wiborg (At the concert, Ault & Wiborg), 1896

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Reine de Joie (The Queen of Joy), 1892

This colourful poster publicised French author Victor Joze’s controversial novel Reine de joie (Queen of joy), which follows a young courtesan in Paris who convinces the wealthy Jewish banker Baron de Rosenfeld to compensate her with his money in exchange for her company.  The fictional Rosenfeld was loosely based on the real Baron de Rothschild, and Joze played up anti-Semitic stereotypes of the 1890s that characterized Jewish bankers as greedy, dishonest and unrefined. The book and poster inspired protests by Rosenfeld and his friends, who tore the posters off the walls of Paris’s many bookshops.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin Rouge – Le Goulue (Moullin Rouge – Th Glutton), 1891

La Goulue was a French can-can dancer who was the star of the Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. She quickly became popular for dancing in clubs around Paris, particularly in the suburbs – both for her dancing skills as well as her cheeky and audacious behaviour. She got her nickname La Goulue – ‘the Glutton’ – because of her habit of finishing customers’ drinks as she danced past their tables.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecJules Cheret, Folies-Bergere: La danse du feu ( The Fire Dance at the Crazy Shepherdess), 1897

A famous dancer at the Folies-Bergère Loie Fuller wore phosphorescent outfits, using fabrics doused in radium to heighten the dazzling coloured light effects as she danced. She became a star attraction at the Folies, where her innovative technique and colorful performances won her the devotion of the crowd. Loïe Fuller discovered radium as an artistic medium, with its gentle glow, could produce an enchanting effect.  The style of dance for which she was famous involved wildly swinging and shaking her billowing gown under colored lights, to give the illusion that her gown changed color as she danced.

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecJules Cheret, L’amant des danseuses ( The man who loved dancers), 1888

The artwork, created by Jules Cheret, is a colourful lithograph advertising Felicien Champsaur’s novel, “The Lover of Dancers”. In this Belle Époque masterpiece, we see a beautiful female dancer gracefully poised on stage, her flowing dress accentuating her every movement. Her allure is undeniable as she captivates both the audience and an admirer who gazes at her with intense fascination. Her charm is irresistible, captivating both the audience and an admirer who gazes at her with intense fascination. Have you observed the poppy adorning her dress? I believe the artist is implying the sense of intoxication and it’s parallels to opioid like addiction with this woman. Champsaur’s novel explores themes of love, desire and passion within the world of dance. It delves into the complex relationships between dancers and their admirers against the backdrop of Paris’ bustling entertainment scene.

As we gaze upon this exquisite print. we are transported to the 19th century, where the ballet was more than the high-brow entertainment. It was the height of erotic experience. The time, when an accidental glimpse of a female ankle could send a man’s heart into overdrive. This was an age where money, power and the world of demi-monde intermingled amidst the glamorous yet gritty backdrop of the Paris Opera. For a man of that time to be associated with a Paris Opera ballerina, whether through sponsorship or public appearances, was a marker of success both socially and economically. The allure of the ballet extended far beyond the stage…

High Class Escort London Bristol Cassandra Eden Toulouse LautrecTheophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Le Journal: La Traite des Blanches (The white slave trade), 1899

The poster advertises the serialisation of the novel Le Traite des Blanches , exploring the dark realities of prostitution. Uncensored and censored versions.

With over 100 original posters from the 1890s, this showcase is transporting you to a time when Paris was the epicenter of avant-garde creativity. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to witness Lautrec’s complete collection of posters exhibited together in the UK before they find their permanent home at the Musée d’Ixelles in Belgium. Don’t miss your chance to immerse yourself in the vivid colours and bold lines that defined turn-of-the-century Parisian decadence. This is not just an exhibition, it’s an invitation to lose yourself in the allure of a bygone era.

With love,

Cassandra

Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre

26 April 2024 to 29 September 2024

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, UK