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

The Ladies in the Brothel Dining Room

Oil on cardboard, 60 x 80 cm
Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

As a regular and occasionally long-term guest of the brothels in the Rue des Moulins, Rue d'Amboise, Rue Joubert, Rue des Rosiers and Rue Richelieu, Lautrec was very familiar with the lifestyles of the women who lived there. They trusted him; being a dwarf and a cripple, they permitted him to portray the reality behind the illusory front of erotic pleasure. There is no hint of the way they earn their living as they sit over the communal meal. In buttoned-up dresses the tired women stare into the space with blank listlessness, and only the loud colour combinations give any indication of their sorry existence.