(b. 1864, Albi, d. 1901, Château Malromé, Langon)

Ball at the Moulin Rouge

Oil on canvas, 115 x 150 cm
Museum of Art, Philadelphia

The Moulin Rouge dance hall was opened on 5 October 1889, and was the meeting place of Paris society, artists and demi-monde. The red windmill at the entrance was a mock-up; its back consisted of various booths and a wooden elephant that could be turned into a stage. The venue was lit up as bright as day and decorated with mirrors, galleries and gaslights. In the middle was a large dance floor surrounded by a promenade, tables, and a garden.

Lautrec had a table reserved for him from the very first day, and his sketches and paintings constituted the house chronicle. They made a significant contribution to the fame of the Moulin Rouge and were exhibited from time to time in a small gallery in the foyer.