Jane Avril

Jane Avril, one of Toulouse-Lautrec’s favorite models, was a famous cabaret performer in Paris. This portrait, however, suggests very little about the energetic dancing style that earned her the nickname La Melenite (dynamite). She appears in street clothes, wearing a plum-colored cape and an extravagant hat, peering sideways through narrowed eyes. Only the unnatural colors of her hair, skin, and lips, set against the green and indigo background, suggest the heavy makeup and harsh lighting in which she appeared on stage.


Frantz Jourdain, Paris (by 1898–d. 1935); Francis Jourdain, his son, Paris, by descent (1935–until at least 1936); [Wildenstein, New York, by 1939, sold to Clark, 10 Feb. 1940]; Robert Sterling Clark (1940–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

French, 1864–1901

Jane Avril

c. 1891–92

Oil on laminate cardboard, mounted on panel

24 7/8 x 16 5/8 in. (63.2 x 42.2 cm) Frame: 35 x 36 1/2 x 3 1/4 in. (88.9 x 92.7 x 8.3 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1940