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These, for me, are the two most depressing paintings in western history. They were painted by post-impressionist Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec, a man who, due to inbreeding, was born with a genetic disorder that prevented his legs from growing after they were broken. After being so thoroughly mocked for is appearance, he became an alcoholic, which is what eventually caused his institutionalization and death. His only known romantic relations were with prostitutes.

And then he paints something like this which is so beautiful and tender and sentimental. It seems like the couple in bed really loves each other—cares about each other. Wakes up happy to look at each other. And I see that love and passion and I wonder how lonely he must have been. I wonder how he could paint something like this without it breaking his heart. 

Maybe they say artists should create what they know, not because its unbelievable when they extend themselves beyond their experiences, but because when they pull it off with such elegance, it’s so damn unbearable to look at. I hate thinking of Lautrec, wondering about the lovers he created and knowing it was beyond his experience. Creating something that he knows is beautiful and knows he’ll never really understand. 

Toulouse broke his leg at around age 13 (said to have been caused by a horse riding accident) and it never healed correctly, possibly due to rickets on top of all his other problems. That’s why his legs were stunted. He had lots of sexy time with ladies of the evening, who all rather loved him. He had one long lasting affair with a woman who was considered his mistress to whom he gave painting lessons. Her name was Suzanne Valadon who was many things, including a trapeze artist, but never a prostitute. It is said that she wanted to marry Toulouse-Lautrec very much, but that he didn’t want to. She went on to be an artist in her own right. His favorite type of ladies were red heads, and one that he had a particularly close ralationship with (a red head named Rosa, who was also a favorite model ) gave him syphilis. Thats what drove him mad (dementia). He was also never really shunned by his family, in fact he often hung out with a very tall cousin because he saw humor in th juxtaposition and wanted other people to as well. His family took him home from the sanitarium to die at the family estate, which he did at around the age of 37. Also, those two in scene are probably both girls and prostitutes. Lesbian subject matter was big to him.
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