Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French, 1864–1901)
Lithograph printed in three colors on wove paper; second state
20 7/16 x 15 3/4 in. (51.9 x 40 cm)
Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.1203.166)
Elles, a series of ten lithographs devoted to the theme of prostitutes, was based on Lautrec's observations of daily life inside a Parisian brothel where he resided briefly in 1894. The prints are highly original in their representation of mundane aspects of the prostitutes' existence, particularly moments of intimacy and friendship. In this image, a prostitute loosens her hair in preparation for an unseen male client, whose doffed top hat rests on the clotheshorse in the foreground (the prostitute's frilly blue hat is on the bed at left). The decorative, curving silhouette of the woman's blue robe, echoed by the swoop of her orange hair, suggests the influence of Art Nouveau.