Yvette Guilbert Singing „Linger Longer Loo“

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec • Painting, 1884, 57×42 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene
Style of art: Post-Impressionism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Cardboard
Date of creation: 1884
Size: 57×42 cm
Artwork in selections: 46 selections
Exhibitions history
Audio guide

Description of the artwork «Yvette Guilbert Singing „Linger Longer Loo“»

At all times, star actresses and popular singers have been depicted better than in reality: gentle ovals of faces, tempting smiles, bright eyes. Color printing became very popular in late XIX century. Each day dozens of multicolor posters appeared on city columns advertising concerts, quadrilles and singers. Similar faces with similar inviting smiles attracted people passing by. Next day the same attractive and persuasive faces would appear instead.

Though, Yvette Guilbert, a signer at the Moulin Rouge, a cabaret in Paris, did not need any flattery. Her attractiveness was of other kind. According to Guilbert most of all she wanted to be original as it would allow her any risk. With Toulouse-Lautrec she dared to be charmless and appeared to be unique.

Yvette Guilbert was tall and lean with a long neck and a narrow turned up nose, pale cheeks and no crème blush, thin lips; her hair was red and her gestures were nervous and excited. Her lyrics were raunchy, their subjects were tragedy, loss of love and poverty; she stood almost perfectly still gesturing with her arms in long black gloves gently and expressively as she sang.

Yvette Guilbert fired the imagination of Toulouse-Lautrec, he had not missed any of her performances. Once he made a coal sketch of a poster for Guilbert and sent it to her with his offer for collaboration. The sketch was rough and spectacular, insulting and tender; it implied a unique and provoking image far from a stage one, a hint at a new crucial role genuinely designed particularly for this lady. Guilbert was ready to publish the poster, but no one supported that idea. Her friends and relatives were insulted by that ugly and grotesque caricature; her agent threatened to terminate the contract.

Soon the artist and the singer met each other and Guilbert agreed to be a sitter for Toulouse-Lautrec. He was going to create a 14-page album of lithographical works devoted only to her. The album was so explosive that Yvette was recommended to file a lawsuit against the artist. But the actress was sure she did everything right.

The oil on cardboard study for Yvette Guilbert Singing Linger Longer, Loo is one of her loveliest depictions by Toulouse-Lautrec. Initially it had been a sketch for a magazine. Then, after it had been finished it appeared to be much gentler and more touching. It lost an ashen-grey color of the face, colorless under straight lights of the stage, sharp light blue shades on the forehead and around the eyes disappeared. Though, in the sketch and in the finished picture of Yvette Guilbert, she was the same ugly, grotesque, recognizable and at the same time attractive in a new way Guilbert, whom Toulouse-Lautrec managed to depict as original and unique.

Yvette Guilbert lived more than 70 years and was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest award of France. Germany, England and the USA applauded her performances; Sigmund Freud and George Bernard Show were among her admirers. She appeared in several silent films, taught singing and wrote some books. In her pictures Yvette Guilbert regardless young or at her mature age looks beautiful and aristocratic. However, hardly somebody could remember her if it were not for the ugly, cruel and stunning images by Toulouse-Lautrec.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova