Walking towards Point 10 Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio Rue Caulaincourt
Now go back out of Rue Norvins and turn right to join join Rue Lepic. Keep to the right hand pavement as you drop down the hill. The route sweeps round right below the octagonal Commanderie building set in its garden; if you look closely enough you will see vines here too.
The square area is called Place Jean-Baptiste Clément. We are now dropping down and still slowly turning right. You now join Rue Lepic as you exit the more open square area. Keep going and you will soon see the familiar profile of the Moulin de la Galette ahead (point 4). This time we will stay on Rue Lepic all the way. Go straight by and keep walking down the hill which is quite steep in places.
Site of the Moulin de la Galette park
About a quarter of the way down, to the right, there is an area of allotments or gardens crowned by the Blute-Fin windmill dating from the 18th century. A green arched sign announces the Moulin de la Galette. As we can see from the Renoir painting the Moulin de la Galette complex included a dance hall and a shady park area for promenading, dancing and meeting.
The garden and building arrangement was typical of many ‘bals’ or dance venues of this time. We can assume that the park area featured in Renoir’s painting was situated between the Blute-Fin mill you see now and where the present day Moulin de la Galette (point 4) restaurant is. There is no public access to the hill, this is all private land.
The information panel put up by the Mayor of Paris reads:
The Moulin de la Galette (The Pancake Mill)
The first part of the panel tells of the heroic exploits of the four Debray brothers whilst defending the ‘Blute-Fin’ mill (which you see above you now) during the siege of Paris by the Cossacks in 1814. Records show the Debray family have been associated with milling in Montmartre since at least 1621. It then gives details of the gruesome fate of the last surviving Debray brother at the hands of the Cossacks which I will spare you.
‘During the Restoration (a period in French history when the monarchy returned from 1815 – 1848), the son (of the Debray brother killed by the Cossacks) redeveloped the building as a dancehall. The decoration was mainly garden trellis (lattice work) painted green.
There was a relaxed atmosphere and a more popular clientele than in other similar establishments which can be seen in Renoir’s 1876 painting ‘The Dance at the Moulin de la Galette’. Following various misadventures the ‘Blute-Fin’ was saved in 1979.’
For wheelchair users, please return to wheelchair route Place Dalida and point 7.
For wheelchair route users, please return to point 9 Bateau Lavoir.
Point 10 Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio
Keep going down Rue Lepic, dropping all the time. Rue Lepic suddenly turns sharp left, continue until you come to the junction with Rue Tourlaque which is to the right on the right hand pavement going down.
Turn into Rue Tourlaque and again keep on the right hand pavement, it also descends. Follow it for about 50 metres to its junction with Rue Caulaincourt.
On the junction there is a café. Diagonally opposite the café on the other side of Rue Caulaincourt (number 21) you will see an imposing window on the second floor that forms the angle. This was Toulouse-Lautrec’s first studio in Montmartre.
Other accounts have his studio on the third floor. Toulouse-Lautrec, like Renoir, like Degas, like Picasso and like many other artists moved around the Montmartre area a lot. He was here in the late 1880s and again in the mid 1890s. Suzanne Valadon (see points 6 and 9) was his model and the two had an affair.
Toulouse-Lautrec paintings associated with this studio
For his second tenure he seems to have kept a studio here whilst actually living in rue Pierre Fontaine in the Pigalle/Lower Montmartre area. The works that we can associate with this studio would be for example: The portrait of Vincent van Gogh from 1887, in the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. La Blanchisseuse (The Laundress) in a private collection, both of which would probably have been painted here in his first tenure.
Gerstle Mack’s photograph of Toulouse-Lautrec entitled ‘Toulouse-Lautrec in his studio in Rue Caulaincourt‘ shows him working on At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance. The painting dates from 1890 and can be seen in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
From the second period (approximately 1894 – 97) date his realistic, clear eyed observations of the lives of prostitutes. For example Salon de la Rue des Moulins 1894-95 now in the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi, France, (the text of this site is only in French) or the Nude Standing Before a Mirror at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Toulouse-Lautrec captures the subdued atmosphere of the end of the evening, when the entertainment is over, in his wonderful At the Moulin Rouge now in The Art Institute of Chicago; it too was possibly also painted here. The lively Cartoons for La Goulue’s Fairground Hut painted in 1895 in the Orsay Museum in Paris also date from this period.
The following stop, point 11 the Cité des Fusains is optional. There is not much to see and involves a considerable drop. Even the artists who were used to walking about Montmartre probably would have complained about going down here. If your footsteps are still lively you can go, if not then you are excused for not following in the footsteps of the artists to this particular destination.
For wheelchair users, please return to point 1 on disabled route