Department of Art after 1800
This painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec shows the refectory of the popular brothel at
6 Rue des Moulins in Paris. The artist was intimately acquainted with the world of Parisian
courtesans. From 1884 he lived in Montmartre, where he intently observed all the different
people who frequented the neighbourhood. His own physical disabilities predisposed him to
feel empathy for the tough and troubled existence of women forced to earn a living in this way.
He spent almost three years between 1893 and 1895 recording the lives of the prostitutes
around him. He expressed his sympathy for his subjects not with the realist devices of
Emile Zola, but in a way that bore a closer resemblance to the symbolism used by Guy de
Maupassant in conveying pain.
This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.