Explain that Henri was born 11 years after Vincent Van Gogh in 1864. Unlike Vincent, he was born to a very rich family and never was poor. Vincent came to look at Henri's paintings in France a lot. Henri showed his art in a studio owned by Vincent Van Gogh's brother Theo. Henri was a strange looking man who was very short. He stopped growing after the age of 8. Henri had two accidents with his legs when he was little. In 1878 he broke his thigh and had several very painful operations to fix it. He later fell and broke his other leg. It was at this point that his legs quit growing due to the injuries. Henri walked with a cane, had a beard and usually wore a tall, black hat. Show a picture of Henri (see references above).
Have everyone stand up and move to the edge of the room where they can move around somewhat. Tell them that they are going to pretend that they are Henri and will act out everything I say.
Say out loud, 'You are Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and are asleep in your bed. It is morning and you wake up and stretch. You are glad to be alive. You stand up, pull on your pants and put on your black suit and tie. You pull up your pants as high as you can because they are too long. It's hard finding pants that fit when you're as short as you are. You put on your long, black overcoat you always wear when you go out, grab your tall hat and put it on your head, and grab your cane by the bed. You hobble and limp down the street to the theatre to see your friend, Lily Grenier.'
Have students return to their seats.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec- Dramatization/Creative movement
Print:Au Moulin Rouge, by Toulouse-Lautrec. 1892, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Song:Reine de Musette, by Emile Vacher. France. (May substitute any French song that sounds good for the Moulin-Rouge.)
Explain to students that Henri frequently painted scenes from the Moulin-Rouge, a very famous Paris nightclub. Many times he even asked people there to come to his studio, so he could paint them personally. Henri was asked to make posters advertising dancers at the Moulin-Rouge. Many of Henri's best pictures are posters.
Show students the two paintings listed in the materials needed. Explain that they are the two best examples of his Moulin-Rouge paintings. Have 10 students study the Au Moulin Rouge and choose their character. The remaining students in the classroom will study the other painting and also choose their characters to dramatize. Tell the first group that they are to sit at a table and pose in the exact position of that in the painting. They are to imagine what's going on in the scene and make up a dialogue for each character. Tell them that the short figure at the back of the painting is that of Henri. They have 5 minutes to come up with a story. The other group is to pose in the position of their painting with one change. When it's time for their performance, I'm going to play a French song and they will dance like the people in this painting.
After 5 minutes, have the group at the table go first. Start them out in the exact position of the painting. When I say "action" they will begin their short skit. When done, the other group will take their pose. When I start the music, they begin dancing.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - Pantomime
Print of La Goulue, by Toulouse-Lautrec. 1891, The Albi Museum, France.
Show students the posters listed in the materials. Explain that Henri did many of these for the Moulin-Rouge nightclub. Tell them that they are going to pretend to be Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and make a poster for the next choir concert at your School. Tell them to pay attention to how Henri painted bright colors and used bold paint strokes. Unimportant figures were either painted gray or black. Words were done in "bubble letters." Try to make it look like Henri's style of painting.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - Improvisation
Photograph of Lautrec with his mother at Malromé, c. 1900 (See below)
Note: This portion of the lesson deals with death. Use your discretion as to whether to use it with your particular group of students.
Show students the photograph listed in the materials above. Explain that Henri was asleep in this picture because he was very weak near the end of his life. He died at the young age of 37 because he overdid everything. He wanted to enjoy life to it's fullest but he didn't know when to quit. Henri's life is an example of what happens when you do too much of anything. Henri drank too much, smoked too much, and had several diseases because he carried things too far. Ask: What are some things that people do too much of today?
Explain that Henri's father was the last to see him alive. On September 9, 1901, his father found him paralyzed on the bed and near death. His father would swat at the flies to keep them away from Henri's face. Finally, Henri looked up at him and said, 'You silly old bugger,' and died. Henri's father wrote to Henri's first teacher, Princeteau..,' the little one, as you called him, died at 2:15 a.m... for him death meant the end of suffering, and we hope for another life where we shall meet again...'
Have two volunteers to come up to the front of the room. Tell them to reenact the scene that I just described between father and son. Put some chairs together to form a bed for Henri to lay on.