(b Albi, 24 Nov. 1864; d Château de Malromé, nr. Toulouse, 9 Sept. 1901).French painter, printmaker, and draughtsman, one of the most colourful figures in 19th-century art. He showed an early talent for drawing (his father and one of his uncles were amateur artists) and in 1882 he began to study with Bonnat. The following year he became a pupil of Cormon, and in January 1884, aged 19, he was given an allowance and set up in a studio of his own in the Montmartre district of Paris, an area notorious for bohemianism and seedily glamorous nightlife. Almost all his work is taken from this world and his scenes of cafés, brothels, and nightclubs (notably the Moulin Rouge) have helped to create the popular image of fin-de-siècle Paris. He led a gruellingly dissipated life, but he was always a dedicated professional artist, and it was a matter of pride that he kept his earnings in a separate bank account from his parental allowance (his work sold well, but he was constantly short of money because he was so extravagant).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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