Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin de la Galette, 1889; Art Institute of Chicago.
"With this painting of the dance hall known as the Moulin de la Galette, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec established his reputation as the painter-chronicler of the entertainments of Monmartre." That's how the Art Institute of Chicago opens its note about this famous artwork, revealing the painting's importance in culture and history. It's sad to see the poorly altered version below appearing in various locations online. The extreme contrast, along with the unnatural yellowed and intensified color, remove much of the detail, and draw the eye away from, rather than toward, the subtleties of the action taking place. For example:
Lautrec employed the wood barrier as a metaphorical divide between the frenzied action of the dance hall, seen as a blur in the background, and the stillness of the bored and waiting women (accompanied by a proprietary male) in the foreground.
The dimness and shadows are part of the story told by the picture:
Lautrec used serpentine to thin his paint and applied it in loose washes, a technique known as peinture à l'essence. The result is a seemingly unfinished look that suggests both the immediacy of the artist's observations and the dinginess of his subject.
By brightening the scene, adding more clarity and sharpness to the images, and erasing a sense of depth and distance, the reproduction has lost nearly everything intended by the artist.
Altered version of a painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
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