Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901)

An early illustrated letter to his aunt, 1879

A marvellous four-page autograph letter signed by Toulouse-Lautrec (‘Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’) to his great aunt, August 1879, incorporating a detailed drawing of a carriage pulled by horses.

The young artist describes with great wit his pilgrimage to Lourdes, and a stay in Barèges with his parents. Tragically, within a few days of writing this letter, Toulouse-Lautrec broke his right leg in Barèges, having already broken his left leg the previous year, leaving him with lifelong injuries. In part, ‘We arrived last night after a very good trip, although a little hot. Our car was full almost all the time. There was a baby who was also going to the pilgrimage and changing clothes from time to time who knocked over a large glass of wine. We have been several times to the grotto and we have not forgotten you… ‘‘Sunday at vespers we sang very well and a good priest read us the story of a miracle, but he spoiled his speech by adding that since the event that took place last year the person who received the miracle had put on twenty pounds in weight… We left the next day at eight o’clock and arrived safely after several long hours spent in a horse-drawn coach.

At the bottom of the third page, Toulouse-Lautrec draws the coach. Then he evokes their arrival in Barèges: We are eating at the hotel. I have already taken a bath…’ In the post-script, he adds various comments, including, ‘thank you for the pie which was excellent’.

A superb letter, whose sketch shows the burgeoning talents of the 14-year old Lautrec. Some tears, including close to the signature, have been skilfully repaired. Otherwise in fine condition.