Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Southern France in 1864. He was the son of the Comte de Toulouse, and he was the last in line of his aristocratic family. Today the family home is a museum.
Toulouse-Lautrec was a weak and sickly child who learned to paint and draw at an early age. By the time he reached 14 years of age he had broken both legs. The bones did not heal, therefore he never grew past the height of 4 1/2 feet.
This is one of two matching Parisian buildings created for a builders contest at Shellie's Miniature Mania in San Carlos, CA, and was designed to replicate one of Toulouse-Lautrec's ateliers located on the Rue Tourlaque, in the Montmartre district of France. Monmartre was a working class district set on the outskirts of Paris. Located on a hill, or butte, it was removed from the city center and was the heart of a daring, racy entertainment industry that lured young Parisians to its dance halls, cabarets, circuses and brothels. Its cheap rents and racy culture were a magnet for young avant-garde artists.
Toulouse-Lautrec was an active part of this community. He would sit in the many nightclubs at night smoking and drinking absinthe, drawing and sketching the scenes around him. During the day he recreated what he had sketched the previous evening. He was a heavy absinthe drinker, which eventually led to his death in 1901.
This building recreates the atmosphere of Paris in that period of time, with Toulouse-Lautrec painting in his upstairs atelier one of his many models, while indulging in absinthe.
The "Absinthe Bar" located downstairs is a ficticious bar where young Parisian artists and patrons come to socialize. Note the marbleized bistro tables and bentwood chairs Suze created for this scene, as well as the many glasses and bottles of absinthe. There is no electricity, as gas lights were just coming into existence during this time.