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      April 2012 > Artistic spotlight on Toulouse-Lautrec’s Albi

Artistic spotlight on Toulouse-Lautrec’s Albi

After ten years' reconstruction and costing £33million, the former Bishop’s Palace in the French city of Albi has just reopened as the new, modern home of the world’s greatest collection of Toulouse-Lautrec paintings.

Be among the first to see how his vibrant, animated paintings so cleverly captured late-nineteenth century France.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a strange man, by all accounts, though a gifted artist and illustrator - something he worked at relentlessly as a boy while suffering from the hereditary bone disease that stunted his growth, and prevented him playing outside as children his age normally do.

He was the son of Count Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa and had a privileged upbringing, though he soon developed a passion for the seedier side of life. He spent twenty years in Montmartre in Paris living the Bohemian lifestyle, frequenting the newly-opened 'Moulin Rouge', countless brothels and bordellos, and drinking enough absinthe each day to fell a carthorse. Alcoholism certainly contributed to his early death at the age of only 36 – but what a legacy he left.

Some of his poster images are among the most iconic and easily recognizable in the world and the museum in le Palais de la Berbie, originally created by his mother shortly after his death, is testament to his enduring popularity. Today, the newly revamped museum holds more than 1000 of his works, including the 31 famous posters.

Not that Albi’s appeal relies solely on the reputation of this diminutive artist. It’s a great city to explore on foot, whether you arrive here for a cycling holiday in the Timeless Tarn or a walking holiday Along the Tarn Valley, one of the undoubted gems of this beautiful region of southern France.

The mediaeval old town of ‘La Ville Rose’, as it is otherwise known due to the preponderance of pink-brick buildings, boasts a remarkable cathedral, dedicated to Saint Cécile, which dominates the skyline for miles around. This huge brick structure (claiming to be the largest brick building in the world) and the associated fortress-like bishop’s palace were built in the aftermath of the suppression of the Cathar heretics, and today form part of a UNESCO designated area of architectural importance.

Lautrec once said, “I paint things as they are. I don’t comment.” Well, if you get the chance to visit and see his paintings as they are, let us know what you think. Please comment…

Posted: 05/04/2012 08:38:55 by Peter Williamson, Inntravel | with 0 comments
Filed under: cycling, France, heritage, opinions

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