I took a browse through “From Daumier to Toulouse-Lautrec: Icons of French Nineteenth-Century Lithography in the Collection of the Indiana University Eskenazi Museum of Art” and was pleasantly surprised by the array of artwork that the Eskenazi presented for online viewing.
I learned that this method of creating visual art flourished in nineteenth century France with beautiful black and white renditions of subjects ranging from war to popular sports to other competing art forms—such as in Daumier’s Nadar Elevating Photography to the Heights of Art, a whimsical display of his friend Nadar successfully utilizing this exciting new technology and medium of expression.
I was especially taken by the color lithographs. These works would have taken an incredible amount of time and persistence to make as, according to the article, “A print like Toulouse-Lautrec’s Englishman at the Moulin Rouge includes seven different colors, each of which would have required a separate plate.” The careful layering, alongside Toulouse-Lautrec’s spatter technique, creates depth and texture, pulling the viewer’s eyes from the broader depiction of the gossiping man and women all the way to the intricate detail that makes the piece come alive with the suggestion of movement and vibrancy.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Englishman at the Moulin Rouge
We are living a period of time when staying at home has forced us to slow down our usually face-paced lives. Thinking about the hard work and focus of creating this kind of artwork has reminded me of the benefits of focusing on a single task in which you can produce a quality product. When you quiet your mind and remove distractions, or even forget about deadlines (quite a difficult thing to do these days), you have the ability to harness a precision and patience that may just result in a masterpiece.