Allentown Art Museum will present Toulouse Lautrec and His World in 2013

Art Museum will be early American stop for crowd-pleasing exhibit of Parisian posters and prints

Allentown, PA—The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley is thrilled to announce that it will be one of the first venues outside of Europe to host Toulouse-Lautrec and His World, during the summer of 2013. This traveling exhibition is on loan from the collection of the Heraklaidon Museum in Athens, Greece, and focuses on the art and life of one of the most fascinating artists and personalities of the Belle Époque (Beautiful Era) in France, which dates from the late 19th century through World War I. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec lived in Paris during this colorful time of cabarets and cafés, and he captured its famous singers, actors, and other characters in his highly celebrated posters, prints, caricatures, sketches, and paintings. 

Toulouse-Lautrec and His World—which will fill the Scheller and Rodale galleries on the Museum’s second floor from June 2 to September 1, 2013—will showcase well-known works on paper by the great French artist, including the posters Jane Avril, Divan Japonais, La revue blanche, and La Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine—depicting four women dancing the Can-Can.

“We believe that this one-of-a-kind Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition will be both popular, bringing in wide audiences, and educational, fulfilling our mission,” saysDiane Fischer, the Museum’s chief curator. During its ten-month run in Athens the exhibit attracted an average of 10,500 visitors a month and nearly 9,000 students. “We also will be hosting a number of exciting events based on French cuisine and culture around the belle époque theme, bringing a bit of Paris to the Lehigh Valley,” Fischer promises.


The exhibit Toulouse-Lautrec and His World comes to the Allentown Art Museum from the Herakleidon Museum in Greece. In total there will be approximately 150 works on display.  At the center of this exhibition is a rare collection of approximately 100 original works on paper by Toulouse-Lautrec. This includes a number of his rare posters as well as thirty-five of his sketches, which were often the draft ideas for the posters themselves.  The included posters are incredibly rare and fragile because as temporary advertisements for a particular show they were not done on quality paper. Toulouse-Lautrec and His World will also contain an example of one of the artist’s book illustrations—accompanied by a number of corresponding rejection letters from publishers.

The original works of Toulouse-Lautrec that are being exhibited at the Allentown Art Museum—publicity posters, prints, and drawings—are shown next to portraits of famous actors and singers of the time, as well as sketches and caricatures. Some of the works are accompanied by appropriate passages from French literature, photographs, and other objects, in order to help the viewer better understand the atmosphere of that time.

The Summer 2013 engagement at the Allentown Art Museum—June 2 to September 1, 2013—is expected to be one of the exhibition’s first stops in the United States before traveling west.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) was greatly influenced by the French Impressionist movement and strove to incorporate the ideals of such painters as Monet and Renoir into his own work.  Categorized as a Post-Impressionist, he is best known for his works depicting scenes from cabarets, theaters, dance halls and brothels. These were experiences that he himself lived when he moved to the north district of Montmartre in Paris in 1885. His interest lay in portraying people, not only those he met during his nights on the town but also his friends and the working-class citizens of Paris. In 1891, Toulouse-Lautrec produced a color poster for the Moulin Rouge nightclub that brought him instant fame. He also illustrated theater programs, book covers, menus, and other ephemera. His expressive use of line was well suited to the medium of lithography—he never made a distinction between commercial and fine art, even though he also painted in oil. Due to alcohol abuse and the effects of syphilis, his health began to deteriorate and Toulouse-Lautrec died in 1901 at the age of thirty-six.


Founded in 1934 by the teacher, painter and critic Walter Emerson Baum (1884–1956), the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley has become the premier institution of visual arts in the region, serving as an important cultural destination as well as a vital element in the economic revitalization of downtown Allentown. The Museum’s newly expanded 48,900 sq. ft. facility showcases a growing collection of nearly 17,000 works of art of international importance, allowing visitors to experience a broad spectrum of art representing diverse media, materials and techniques from an equally diverse range of countries and cultures. In 1974 the Museum received prestigious accreditation from the American Association of Museums and today remains one of just 299 art museums of the 15,000 museums nationwide accorded this status.