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The Streetwalker (formerly Portrait of a Prostitute), 1892-1894

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

French, 1864-1901
Oil on cardboard
24-3/4 x 19-1/8 in. (62.8 x 48.6 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Though Toulouse-Lautrec was born into an aristocratic family in the South of France, he spent his career recording the everyday lives of working people in Montmartre with unusual sympathy and insight. In the 1890s he grew increasingly interested in the prostitutes who lived and worked around him (and whom he probably frequented on occasion). A double chin and coquettish, curled bangs identify this portrait as the likeness of a particular individual, but the artist also set out to portray a type, the most desperate class of prostitute: a pierreuse, or streetwalker, who met her clients on the street, rather than in the relative safety of a licensed brothel.

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