“Travail de panneau”: The Effects of Early Film on Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Au cirque” Series

By Kimberly Musial Datchuk.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic Free Download

I propose that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec drew upon early film techniques to simulate movement in his work, particularly his “Au cirque” drawings, 1899. Moving picture devices and popular interest in them had been prevalent since the 1830s. As the century progressed, artists and scientists developed cameras capable of capturing sequences of movement in photographs and, finally, film. The impact of these technological advances on the avant-garde during the last quarter of the nineteenth century remains an open question. This question seems especially pressing when one considers that artists patronized and depicted the same establishments that screened films: dancehalls, cafés, and circuses. In this paper, I explore the connection between art and film through a discussion of how the depiction of movement developed in Lautrec’s work throughout his career, culminating in the circus series. These drawings demonstrate an awareness of and involvement with the visual tools of nascent cinema. His competition with film corresponded to the previous generation’s competition with photography, and his engagement with film opens onto a modernism focused on movement and technology.

Keywords: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Film, Cinema of Attractions, Fin de Siècle, Eadward Muybridge, Etienne-Jules Marey, Georges Méliès

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.53-71. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.411MB).

Dr. Kimberly Musial Datchuk

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

Kimberly is a doctoral candidate at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include nineteenth-century European art, post-1945 American and European art, and the Northern Renaissance. Her forthcoming dissertation explores the connections between art, gender, sexuality, and technology in Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s œuvre.