Thursday, April 19, 2007

Toulouse Lautrec & the Whores of Hamburg

The same year that 'THE SECRET SKETCHBOOK' was published (1969) saw the release of 'THE SECOND COMING OF TOULOUSE LAUTREC', Searle's homage to the great French Impressionist of short stature with a penchant for hanging out in brothels.

The Hamburg sketches are signed & dated 1967 while the Lautrec drawings are dated 1969. It seems Searle's experience drawing the strippers of Hamburg directly informed the later 'imaginary' works, perhaps even inspiring the project. Searle could certainly now identify with Lautrec (to a degree) as an artist amongst 'les femmes de nuit'.

The women in the Lautrec project are drawn in the same loose manner as the 'Secret Sketchbook' & have the same realistic, 'womanly' proportions, un-glamorised female figures.

'Inscribed on the title page in black ink “For / Wendy / with love & / Happy Birthday wishes / - this bit of / backstreet reporting / by two of your / chums! / ? and Ronnie [underlined].” Beside the inscription Searle has drawn full page illustration of a cigarette smoking Fille de Hambourg in heels and stockings which he has dated underneath 1st May 1969. The recipient is actress, choreographer, stage and film director Wendy Toye with whom Searle collaborated on several projects.'  -Lucius Books

Here's the real sketchbook at the Searle archive in Hanover, Germany.


Pete Western said...

Hi Matt
I've just made this one of my favourite sites as there is such a wealth of new material here since the last time I visited - I'm grateful that you find the time to scan all this stuff.
Thanks for including the front cover of the Lautrec book - I bought a good second hand copy recently but unfortunately without the dust jacket.
Again thanks for maintaining this site of such a marvellous artist.

Matt Jones said...

Hey Pete, glad you like the Searle images as much as I do. I'm actually fairly limited in the material I can scan. Here in France I only have ONE Searle book so most of the latest books are images I've found online hence the crappy quality of some.

Pete Western said...

Matt - the quality is fine but if you want me to scan stuff for the site (if I possess it) gimme a shout.
Hope you are enjoying working in France. Saw the animation fraternity out in force tonight at the Schlingmann/Ross/Mielgo show.

All the best

Matt Jones said...

France is working out fine' especially down here on the Riviera! Wish I could've been at the exhibition-how did it go?

You must have the Russell Davies biography of Searle? There's a 'Lautrec' image in there I would love to include in this post. It's a full colour homage to Géricault's Raft of the Medusa with Toulouse surrounded by prostitutes. If you would scan that I would be most grateful. You still have my email?
Also I remember you have some ORIGINAL Searle's, perhaps a high quality version would be interesting to see his line work, but only if that's OK by you.
Cheers Pete,

Pete Western said...

Matt - it will be a pleasure to scan the requested image from the biography. Incidentally, one of the interviews that you posted earlier on this site added a fresh insight into Searle's sudden departure from England that the Russell Davies book somewhat shied away from. Anyone who doubts this man's iron will in pursuing his own uncompromising way in life and art, read it. Thanks for reproducing it,Matt.

I'd like to scan the originals but they are too big for the scanner and too nicely sealed and framed to pull apart - sorry! When you are back in Angleterre, come up and see them sometime!

So many familiar faces at the exhibition last night, it was hard to see the pictures, but what I did see were great. Talking of which, please say hi to Bibo from me.


Matt Jones said...

OK Pete, totally understand your concern over your original artwork, no problem.
I've mis-recollected the 'Lautrec' image in the Davies book- he's not even in it!! I think it's simply a heaving mass of female nudes in a direct homage to Géricault. Anyway, it's still relevant & I'd be most appreciative if you find time to scan it.

In the next post I would like to compare 'Baron Munchausen' & 'Anatomies & Decapitations'. I have some images from the former but not the latter. Do you possess this? (It's rare. I think it's an exhibition catalogue basically.)

Andrew Smith said...

this is great! I love Searle's work. Glad somebody is giving him a little spotlight here.

constance wong said...

Thank you so much for having this tribute blog as I've been looking for the Lemon Hart character illustrator/artist. I came across a few Lemon Hart's ads in a 1954 readers' digest (not shown in your blog), which was given to me by a late aunt. I could not make out the characters in the signature so I was so glad to know that his full name is Ronald Searle. Love his style and am so happy to see other works by him.

I'd be happy too to scan/take a picture of those ads for you if needed.

Unknown said...


I have been trying to find out the value of this print

Hommage a Toulouse - Lautrec
The labours of Hercules
does anybody have an Idea of the marke tor auction value?

Matt Jones said...

Contact Sotheby's & Christie's sometimes auction Searle originals. Any chance you could send me a scan of your pic for this blog?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Matt-

I'm wondering if you can help me. My husband and I came across a framed lithograph at an estate sale this weekend and we loved it. The price was right ($5), so we took it home. We came to find out the next morning that we had happened upon a signed and numbered copy of Roland Searle's Hommage a Toulouse-Lautrec; it's an image of three pairs of dancer's legs, wtih a wee TL standing between the legs of the middle girl. Our copy is number 38 of 70. Any idea what the value of this piece may be? We're not interested in selling it, but for curiosity's sake, I'm interested in what it's worth.