Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light

Robert Burleigh
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Abrams, 2005   ISBN: 978-0810958678

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec came from a very old aristocratic French family and his childhood was filled with all the comforts and pleasures a child could want. From the time when he was just a young boy, Henri showed a great skill for drawing. He was often unwell and being bed bound or forced to stay quiet gave him the perfect opportunity to work on his artistic talents. Henri decided that he wanted to study art and the place to do this was Paris.

Reluctantly Henri’s parents let him to Paris where he was soon part of a growing group of artists who were adopting a new way of painting. One of these artists was called Vincent Van Gogh and Henri became very friendly with the Dutchman.

In addition to working hard on his painting and spending time with his new friends Henri also frequented the night places in Montmartre, a part of town that was very popular with artists. In these places Henri saw dancers, musicians and other performers and he was fascinated by them. He also loved to paint them, and he was prolific. What really made him well-known were the posters that he created for Night spots like the Moulin Rouge and the Chat Noir. He also designed posters advertising the talents of popular dancers and performers.

Filled with superb color reproductions of Henri’s work and packed with information about his times and his life, this is a wonderful tribute to a man who developed a style so distinct that one can recognize his work very easily. The author not only tells us Henri’s story but he also explains the paintings to us and helps us see how and why Henri painted his pictures in the ways that he did.