London, 17 June 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Nicknamed “La Mélinite” for her remarkably dynamic dancing style, Jane Avril (1868-1943) was one of the stars of the Moulin Rouge in 1890. Renowned for her individual style and exotic personality, she became famous after Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1964-1901) depicted her in his posters. The Courtauld Gallery is presenting “Toulouse Lautrec and Jane Avril: beyond the Moulin Rouge” until 18 September.
The event will focus on a selection of paintings, posters and prints from an international collection celebrating a particularly creative partnership which fascinated the whole of Paris.
As opposed to Toulouse-Lautrec, whose family was noble, Jane or Jeanne Beaudon had a difficult childhood and left home at an early age. She was then admitted at the Salpêtrière hospital to be treated for hysteria. Jane participated enthusiastically in the annual Bal des Folles, hosted by the hospital. She found her vocation at the age of twenty and was subsequently hired at the Moulin Rouge as a professional dancer.
Adopting the stage name of Jane Avril, she was an inspired stage performer and became as famous as dancers such as La Goulue (the Glutton), Grille d’Egout (Sewer-grate) and Nini les-Pattes-en-l’air (Nini legs-aloft). Lautrec was fascinated by her dancing and dedicated posters to her. Jane Avril was very grateful to him.
The exhibition will thus explore the complex personae of the two friends via Lautrec’s vivid depictions of the nineteenth century Montmartre.