Some of the greatest art has suffered most under its own success. The illustrative works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, well known through the mass printed reproductions of the posters for Moulin Rouge, became such a household cliché during the 1970s, that they have overshadowed most of his other works. Today very few people seem to be interested in his more monumental art.
In his youth Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec broke both legs. The bones failed to heal properly and his legs stopped growing. When he reached maturity his upper body was of normal size but his legs were abnormally short. This handicap triggered the nick name “Teapot” given to him by the women of pleasure; the strippers and the prostitutes of his beloved Monmartre.
One wonders what would have become of the talent of this young aristocrat, heir to a fortune, without this handicap that forced him to be an outsider, somewhat of a voyeur even, instead of the playboy he could have become, like many of his contemporaries with the same background.
His handicap however became his fatal enemy too. To protect himself against the ridicule caused by his appearance he began to drink heavily. In the end his addiction confined him to a sanatorium and to his mother’s care at home. He died of the results of his alcoholism in 1901 at the family Chateau of Malrome.
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