ARTIST  Henri Toulouse-Lautrec
YEAR  1891
SIZE  47 x 76
PRICE RANGE  over $50,000
This is the most important poster ever. The world of modern graphic arts started here and, in a way, it ends here. This has always been the most expensive non-film poster and it always will be. You cannot transcend greatness. The graphic is timeless, the poster is rare, the condition is one of the best copies in the world and the artist is one of the greatest artists ever. Toulouse-Lautrec`s Moulin Rouge has past the test of time and the wallet. That combination means this poster will always be expensive. If you notice a difference in the color of the ink from panel to panel, this is the way they all are. The color of the inks were inconsistent in those days. They never matched. The word La Goulue in the poster refers to Louise Weber who was taken under the wing of Jacques Renaudin, a wine merchant who danced in his spare time under the stage name `Valentin le D?soss?`. That is the man in the forefront of the poster with the top hat. They danced at the Moulin Rouge when it first opened, performing an early form of the Cancan known as the `chalut.` The two were instant stars, but it was Weber who stole the show with her outrageously captivating conduct. Booked as a permanent headliner, La Goulue became synonymous with the Cancan and the Moulin Rouge nightclub. She became the toast of Paris and the highest paid entertainer of her day. She also was one of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec favorite subjects, immortalized by his portraits and posters of her dancing at the Moulin Rouge. Who ever buys this poster will certainly have purchased the greatest graphic ever printed but will also own an important piece of history. The Moulin Rouge opened in 1889, the same year this poster was created for the most famous night club ever. It is best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance. At the Moulin Rouge, it originally was introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site. Though with time, the can-can dance revue evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Before the Moulin Rouge opened, the can-can existed for many years as a respectable, working class party dance, but it was in the early days of the Moulin Rouge that courtesans first adapted the dance to entertain the male clientele. The dance was usually performed individually, with courtesans moving in an energetic and provocative way in an attempt to seduce potential clients. It was common for them to lift their skirts and reveal their legs and underwear. As time progressed, can-cans seen at the Moulin Rouge became increasingly vulgar and overtly erotic, causing much public outrage. However, it wasn`t long, with the rising popularity of music hall entertainment in Europe, that courtesans were no longer required at the Moulin Rouge and it became a legitimate nightclub. The modern can-can was born as dancers (many of them failed ballet dancers with exceptional skill) were introduced to entertain the guests. The can-can that we recognize today comes directly from this period and, as the vulgarity of the dance lessened, it became renowned for its athletic and acrobatic tricks. The Moulin Rouge lost much of its former reputation as a `high-class brothel` and it soon became fashionable for French society to visit and see the spectacular cabarets, which have included a can-can ever since. Whilst the dance became less crude, the choreography has always intended to be a little risqu? and somewhat provocative. This poster was originally printed in three sheets to be displayed in the streets of Paris. There are very, very few of those that survived. They subsequently printed an unknown number to be sold to consumers. The houses, in Paris, at the Turn of the Twentieth century were small so they only printed the Moulin Rouge poster in two sheet and did not print the top panel. You can see where the third panel is when you look at the top of the poster and the word BAL. This poster is the two sheet edition with a stone lithograph contemporary reproduction that cost me 5,000 euros to have made. I just believe the poster looks better this way. In fact, almost all of the Moulin Rouge posters you might see that are three sheets have a reproduced top panel.