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Members Acquisition Fund 2012-13              

The National Gallery of Australia invites members to contribute to the annual Members Acquisition Fund and to support the acquisition of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithograph Divan Japonais 1893.

Lautrec transformed the art of the poster to the status of masterpiece with his creative designs, brilliant colours and on a large scale rarely seen before. Known in certain art circles, Toulouse-Lautrec made a name for himself in the broader art world when his first poster La Goulue at the Moulin Rouge 1891 was pasted up in the streets. It stunned the Parisian art world and established him as a consummate poster creator. Whether it was depictions of friends or the personalities from the underbelly of Paris, he had a penetrating eye for character and evocative compositions.

Divan Japonais 1893 was created for the newly refurbished cafe-concert, decorated in the Japanese manner, which was fashionable in Paris at the time. For his design, Toulouse-Lautrec embraced the Japanese style of cropped compositions, flat colouring, sinuous lines and simplified forms.

The composition reveals the influence of his artistic hero, Edgar Degas, who was in turn inspired by the caricatures of Honoré Daumier. Toulouse-Lautrec has chosen to depict a performance of one of his favourite models from just behind the orchestra pit, a pictorial device adopted frequently by the older French artists. The poster is radical in design, depicting the singer Yvette Guilbert from her neck down and recognisable by her signature long black gloves and willowy figure. In this composition, based on his imagination rather than in situ, the artist has placed another of his favourite models, the performer Jane Avril, at centre stage, though seated in the audience. Avril is shown in an elegant silhouette dressed in black, her extraordinary red hair partially covered by a playful hat. Next to her is Toulouse-Lautrec’s friend Edouard Dujardin, a noted music critic of the day.

With your generous assistance Divan Japonais will be an important addition to the National Gallery of Australia’s collection.

Donations above $2 are tax deductible. Contributions will be acknowledged in Artonview magazine and the National Gallery of Australia Foundation Annual Report.

We hope you will continue to assist us in shaping the future of the National Gallery ofAustraliaand the national art collection.

Ron Radford AM
Director

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