Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, ‘MAY BELFORT’, 1895, Christopher-Clark Fine Art
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, ‘MAY BELFORT’, 1895, Christopher-Clark Fine Art

May Belfort, a pretty young Irish singer of old songs and ballads who fancied Kate Greenaway dresses, puffed sleeves and a ruffled mob cap surmounted by a bow, was probably seen by Lautrec in 1895 at Les Decadents a noisy, picturesque "cafe-concert". She often cradled a black cat in her arms while she sang; as Gustave Coquiot recalled, "This bleating ewe in a baby costume, with ringlets tumbling over her shoulder . . . held a black kitten in her arms and sang, 'I've got a little cat, and I'm very fond of that . . .,' while the audience would shout the chorus." (The song in question is the famous 1892 English music-hall number "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow," words and music by Joseph Tabrar.)

Signature: Signed on the stone with the artist's monogram device lower left.

: Ph. Huisman & M.G. Dortu, Lautrec by Lautrec, Galahad Books, Newv York, 1964, p. 111 (ill.);
Jane Abdy, The French Poster: Chéret to Cappiello, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., New York, 1969, p. 84 (ill.);
T. Donson & M. Griepp, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Great Lithographs by Toulouse-Lautrec, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1982, no. 43 (ill.);
Toulouse-Lautrec and his Contemporaries: Posters of the Belle Époque from the Wagner Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art/Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1985, no. 16 (ill.);
Toulouse-Lautrec, The Baldwin M. Baldwin Collection, San Diego Museum of Art, 1989, no. 93, p. 227 (ill.);
Toulouse-Lautrec Prints and Posters from the Bibliothèque Nationale, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, 1991, no. 231, p. 200 (ill.);
Richard Thomson / Phillip Dennis Cate / Mary Weaver Chapin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 2005, no. 201, p. 186 (ill.).

About Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Renowned Post-Impressionist painter, lithographer, and art nouveau illustrator Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is famous for his depictions of French fin de siècle urban life. Working in his characteristic linear style, Lautrec frequently portrayed scenes from brothels and cabaret clubs, including the Moulin Rouge, where he had a seat reserved after producing a series of promotional posters for the club’s opening in 1888. Lautrec was influenced by the artists Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet, who shared with them a keen interest in the observation of social culture.

French, 1864-1901, Albi, France, based in Paris, France