Walking towards Point 10 Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio Rue Caulaincourt
Now go back out of Rue Norvins and turn right to 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.
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.
Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio from 1886 to 1897
Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio was on the on the third floor of this building. Toulouse-Lautrec, like Renoir, like Degas, like Picasso and like many other artists moved around the Montmartre area a lot.
Some accounts say that he was here in the late 1880s and again in the mid 1890s.
Other art historians say that he was continuously present here from 1886 to 1897 or 8. To simplify I have preferred to situate his artistic work from 1886 to 1897 or 98 in this studio. His work from 1897 or 8 until 1901 should be situated in the studio in Avenue Frochot, (point 15 on the lower Montmartre – Pigalle walk).
The artists’ model and later artist Suzanne Valadon (see points 6 and 9 of this walk) was his neighbour at the beginning of his tenure here. She posed for him and the two had an affair.
Toulouse-Lautrec paintings associated with this studio
Whilst active as an artist in Paris, Toulouse-Lautrec lived in the Pigalle area of lower Montmartre. Lautrec caught the spirit of Montmartre like no other artist.
In the second walk of this series around the lower Montmartre – Pigalle area, I take time to go into much more detail about where Toulouse-Lautrec lived. I also take an extended look at some of his greatest works.
Some of the paintings and posters I look at are:
• At The Moulin Rouge: The Dance
• The Moulin Rouge: La Goulue poster
• At The Moulin Rouge
• La Goulue Entering the Moulin Rouge
• La Goulue’s fairground hut decorations
• Jane Avril au Jardin de Paris
• Jane Avril le Divan Japonais
Other highlights painted here:
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 the mid 1890s date his realistic, clear eyed observations of the lives of prostitutes. For example Salon de la Rue des Moulins from 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.
The optional Cité des Fusains
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