La Clownesse Assise: Mlle Cha-u-Kao [The Seated Clowness Cha-u-Kao
Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French, 1864?1901
Gift of A. Conger Goodyear, B.A. 1899
As La Clownesse is the first sheet after the Frontispiece, the figure of Cha-U-Kao takes pride of place. Acting in lieu of the artist, she explicitly welcomes the viewer--note her spread legs and cupped hands--to a sexual fantasy, but one that never materializes. Her apparent indifference to the passing scene of lovers attending a masked ball sets the tone for the entire portfolio: the deromanticizing of sexuality. Without question, this is the most carefully prepared lithograph in the set. Lautrec must also have paid special attention to the interaction of the printed colors, the creation of tertiary hues and the separation of foreground and background.
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