Who painted it?
March 19, 2009 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me find a painting?

Last week someone showed me an old program they had designed for a small piano recital, asking me if I could recreate it for her. The cover had a painting on it that was unfamiliar to me, but immediately upon seeing it I associated it with Toulouse-Lautrec ... his style and colors and the period. I've since spent some time image googling and browsing galleries to no avail. I don't have a copy to scan, unfortunately. The woman who showed me the program is on vacation.

These are the details, of which I'm relatively certain: I'm not sure if what I saw was the whole painting or a cropped section of it, but it was done in yellows, reds, whites, golds and blacks. The setting seemed to be a masquerade ball. There was a harlequin-type clown on the right, and the focus of the painting (in the center) was a woman holding a white fan. She may have had a mask on. I think she was wearing a ball gown. Those two were in the foreground. The harlequin was facing the woman. There were several less important people on the left, and two or three abstract dancers in the background. The program designer doesn't know who the artist was or the name of the painting. Do you?
posted by iconomy to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you know the medium? Was it an oil painting? a watercolor? A sketch or a print? Toulouse-Lautrec did a lot of drawings, in particular....it might help me narrow the field if you could identify the type.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 8:10 AM on March 19, 2009

Could it have been something like this? This isn't exactly what you described, but it's as close as I could find...
posted by swilkerson at 8:22 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: HabeasCorpus, no, sorry - it was just there on the cover of the program, and it was grainy and not well done at all, so there was no way I could make out details. All I can do is guess - it looked like a painting.

swilkerson, it is similar in style, that's for sure. Ugh, I may have to try to draw a very preliminary and hideously amateur sketch of this thing and scan it. This is not going to be pretty.
posted by iconomy at 8:49 AM on March 19, 2009

Harlequin and Columbine?
posted by swilkerson at 9:13 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: Once you've seen this you cannot unsee it: my sketch of the painting.
posted by iconomy at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2009

Another by Degas. Looks like Harlequin and Columbine were of particular interest! Even if it wasn't Degas, could that have been the subject matter of the painting?
posted by swilkerson at 9:16 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: Yes, it definitely could have been - those were the two in focus. In this particular painting, the harlequin was small, like a jester. Argh!
posted by iconomy at 9:21 AM on March 19, 2009

Was it this, Dance to the Moulin Rouge?
posted by misha at 9:30 AM on March 19, 2009

Hmm. I'm not seeing anything in the online collection but I was planning on going to the National Gallery over lunch today anyway. I'll keep an eye out for you.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:31 AM on March 19, 2009

Ack, see I'm on the wrong track, we need Harlequin and Columbine?
posted by misha at 9:31 AM on March 19, 2009

James Tissot's The Circus Lover (cropped & reversed)? That would seem to match your sketch, but your description suggested Seurat, particularly the Circus to me.
posted by boudicca at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: She was definitely holding a white fan. Now I know I'm not totally lame...this IS hard to find!
posted by iconomy at 9:51 AM on March 19, 2009

Struck out. Hope someone can help...I'm really curious now!
posted by JoanArkham at 10:47 AM on March 19, 2009


Love the sketch! So to clarify (from your drawing) the woman and the pinocchio like character are seen at full length and encompassed within the painting (it's not like we can just see the waist up, etc.)?
posted by HabeasCorpus at 11:35 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: I can't remember, dammit. It's somewhere between full-length and waist up. Also, I just heard that the woman with the program is 100% positive that the artist is Toulouse-Lautrec, but can't remember the name of the painting, and whether or not it's a whole painting or a section, as she made the program several years ago.
posted by iconomy at 12:03 PM on March 19, 2009

Best answer: Ok,

If you're positive it is Toulouse-Lautrec, then we can definitely find it, but maybe not on the internet. Famous artists usually have a Catalouge Raisonne: a book that documents their complete works. Toulouse-Lautrec's is:

Adriani, Götz. Toulouse-Lautrec: The Complete Graphic Works: A Catalogue Raisonné: The Gerstenberg Collection. London: Thames and Hudson, 1988.

I bet you could find this in a major city library, or else a unversity library with an art history program. I wish I was still in college, but alas....
posted by HabeasCorpus at 1:35 PM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, HabeasCorpus, and everyone else as well. I'm going to look for it this weekend. Or maybe I'll send the woman who wants the program on a mission ;) I'll report back if I find this!
posted by iconomy at 1:49 PM on March 19, 2009

You might keep your search open to other artists.
Moser, Degas and others (certainly there are more) might be confused by some as T-L, who have also painted masquerades.
posted by artdrectr at 2:24 PM on March 19, 2009

This looks like your sketch, but minus the white fan.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:28 PM on March 19, 2009

Best answer: Before I saw your sketch, I was certain you were talking about this poster by Jules Cheret. Now not so sure. Look and see.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:41 PM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh! I think that might be it, Sidhedevil! I'm laughing at how much it sort of looks like my horrid sketch. I have to wait until the weekend - she's coming back from vacation and is going to bring the program. She said she was 100% sure it was T-L, but I think that's it...thanks! I'll report back ;)
posted by iconomy at 5:04 PM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: YES that's it - she cropped out the words at the top and the bottom. I did have the feeling I was looking at a cropped image. After some preliminary searching I see that all available scans of Carnavale online are really low res, which is why the program image looked so bad. Thanks, Sidhedevil!

I think she should use my sketch though, now that I see the actual piece again.
posted by iconomy at 8:24 AM on March 20, 2009

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