Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Short People are people too

The vertically challenged fellow above is one Henri de Toulouse-Latrec, our 97th hero of the day. M. Toulouse-Latrec was born this day, 1864 in Tarn, France. Seems our boy above was cursed by the fact that his parents were first cousins, and years of inbreeding led to many of the physical problems he had throughout his, all too short, life. During his early teens he fractured both thigh bones, and neither of them healed properly leaving him standing only five feet tall. However, his torso was adult sized but his legs ceased to grow, and were only 27.5 inches long. Tough life I expect being that short, and I am sure that people stared quiet a bit. Though his disability did have one positive outcome, since he was unable to partake of the physical activities of most men his age, Henri turned to art. You do not have to be tall in order to paint, all you do is buy a shorter easel, or stand on a chair. He was drawn to the Montmartre area of Paris, an area famous for its "bohemian" life style, and close to the famous Moulin Rouge. When it first opened, the Moulin Rouge commissioned Toulouse-Latrec to produce a series of poster for the joint, and afterwards always held a reserved seat for him. Seems his time at a bar led him to create his own cocktail called Tremblement de Terre, or Earthquake it consisted of 3 parts of cognac, and 3 parts of absinthe in a wine goblet. Sounds wicked, and if you had a couple of those I bet you would be painting all sort of Impressionistic shit too, since you would probably be seeing pink elephants, yellow stars, and purple moons. Throughout his career, which spanned less than 20 years, Toulouse-Latrec created at least 737 canvases, 275 watercolors, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings. Not bad for an drunken dwarf. He was a life long alcoholic, and died at the age of 36 from complications of that disease, but he lived his life on his own terms. His last words were reputed to be him calling his father an old fool, but fool or not he did father a damn fine artist. So, for making portraits of Parisian night life with brush strokes to die for, Henri de Toulouse-Latrec (November 24th, 1864- September 9th, 1901, at the age of 36), you are my hero of the day.

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