Illustrates the Belle Époque

February 4 - April 30, 2017

Exhibition Images

Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque presents an extraordinary collection of iconic and rare prints and posters from nearly the entire period of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithographic career. The legendary French artist established his studio in Montmartre, a Paris neighborhood known for its freedom and nonconformity, and reveled in entertainments found at hot spots like the Chat Noir, the Mirliton, and the Moulin Rouge. His record of amusements fashioned a portrait of modern life that captured the bohemian spirit of the belle époque, a time of vitality and decadence in France.

Born to aristocracy, Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) inherited a genetic disorder that affected his growth. An avid draftsman, he moved to Paris in 1882, trained with academic painters, and befriended avant-garde artists like Louis Anquetin and Vincent van Gogh. Toulouse-Lautrec’s arrival in the City of Light coincided with a momentous time for printmaking. Advances in color lithography and printing technology and relaxed restrictions on printed materials in public spaces transformed Paris into an open-air exhibition, with colorful posters lining the streets. The fresh, bold imagery seen in these works captivated collectors, who sought out smaller versions and limited-edition prints.

Having first experimented with lithography in 1891, Toulouse-Lautrec revolutionized the medium with ambitious work that featured fragmented forms, compressed pictorial space, dramatic scale, and vivid colors. Considering printmaking equal in importance to painting, he prepared in-depth sketches for most lithographs. He selected subjects from daily life, honed in on details for impact, heightened unique features, and celebrated performers and spectators in memorable images that define the era. He looked to the caricatures of Honoré Daumier, the theatrical paintings of Edgar Degas, and the simplified, vibrant forms of Japanese ukiyo-e prints. This remarkable collection, on view for the first time in the United States, also includes examples from influential contemporaries—such as Théophile Alexandre Steinlein’s famous poster for the Chat Noir and Anquetin’s animated painting of the Mirliton—that enrich Toulouse-Lautrec’s enduring characterizations of turn-of-the-century Paris.

The exhibition is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and The Phillips Collection. 


Generous funding is provided by Share Fund and  


With support from Julie and Jon Garcia.

Additional in-kind support is provided by 

What is the belle époque (Golden Age) of today, or of your city? Which entertainment hotspots and performers might Toulouse-Lautrec have been drawn to today?

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s printed works captured the essence of Parisian nightlife, immortalized Paris’s celebrity elite, embraced bohemian culture, and fueled the public imagination. Taking inspiration from the prints and posters in Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque and the artist’s style, the Phillips invites you to create a poster with a modern-day spin.


Send your poster file to with subject line “Toulouse-Lautrec poster submission” and up to 100 words about how your poster responds to the exhibition. Submissions are due no later than 11:59 PM EDT on March 13, 2017.


One grand prize winner will receive

  • $200 cash prize
  • Your poster produced and distributed to first 200 Phillips after 5 attendees on April 6
  • Your poster custom framed by Framebridge and displayed at Phillips after 5 on April 6
  • $150 gift certificate to Pyramid Atlantic Art Center
  • Dual/Family Phillips membership
  • Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque exhibition catalogue

Four honorable mentions will have their posters custom framed by Framebridge and displayed at Phillips after 5 on April 6 and receive an Individual membership and an exhibition catalogue.

Staff favorites will also be displayed at Phillips after 5.


Renee Maurer, Exhibition Curator, The Phillips Collection
Gretchen Schermerhorn, Artistic Director, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center
Morgan Hungerford West, A Creative DC


  • Required specs: 
    • Dimensions: 10 x 16 in. (poster will be printed on 11 x 17 in. sheet)
    • 300dpi
    • Max file size 15 MB
    • Acceptable file formats for online submission are PDF, EPS, JPG, and PNG
    • Submissions may be a photograph of a physical work, as long as the submission meets resolution and dimensions necessary to be printed using the above parameters
  • Art work must be original, submitted by the artist. As all art work must be fully original, no entries will be accepted or considered if they are deemed to use in whole or part derivative images which could be considered plagiaristic.
  • Consider the artist’s style. Toulouse-Lautrec’s arrival in the City of Light coincided with a resurgence in printmaking, and his experiments with lithography revolutionized the field. What mediums or methods are you experimenting with?
  • Consider the context of Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. The sheer scale of the posters plastered around the city transformed Paris into an open air exhibition. What elements of his work would make a passer-by stop to look further?


No purchase necessary to enter or win. Must be 18+. Entries close at 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time on March 13, 2017.

See full Terms and Conditions


Presented in conjunction with