Ambassadeurs. Aristide Bruant Dans Son Cabaret thumbnail 1
Ambassadeurs. Aristide Bruant Dans Son Cabaret thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Ambassadeurs. Aristide Bruant Dans Son Cabaret

Poster
1892 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This poster advertises an event with the singer Aristide Bruant at the Ambassadeurs nightclub in Paris, 1892. Bruant, a satirical singer and a friend of the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), insisted that Lautrec design this poster. The director of the Ambassadeurs disliked its dramatic and uncompromising style, but since Bruant said he would not perform unless the poster remained, it was used both outside the theatre and inside to decorate the proscenium arch.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Colour lithograph
Brief description
Poster, 'Ambassadeurs... Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret', Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French; 1892.
Physical description
Poster advertising an event with the singer Aristide Bruant at the Ambassadeurs nightclub in Paris, 1892.
Dimensions
  • Height: 1513mm
  • Width: 983mm
Style
Subject depicted
Summary
This poster advertises an event with the singer Aristide Bruant at the Ambassadeurs nightclub in Paris, 1892. Bruant, a satirical singer and a friend of the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), insisted that Lautrec design this poster. The director of the Ambassadeurs disliked its dramatic and uncompromising style, but since Bruant said he would not perform unless the poster remained, it was used both outside the theatre and inside to decorate the proscenium arch.
Bibliographic references
  • Greenhalgh, Paul (Ed.), Art Nouveau: 1890-1914 . London: V&A Publications, 2000
  • Taken from Departmental Circulation Register 1962
  • The following excerpts are from Henri Perruchot's biography of Toulouse-Lautrec (published by Collier, 1962): '"Who will deliver us from the likeness of Aristide Bruant?" wrote a contributor to La Vie Parisienne. "You can't go anywhere without finding yourself face to face with him. It has been said that M. Bruant is an artist...How can he consent to appear on the walls side by side with the Bec Auer [for examples see CIRC.604-1962 and E.286-1921] and the Oriflamme. He must suffer from such propinquity". Like many Parisian cabaret stars of the fin de siècle, he is chiefly remembered today as a subject of Toulouse-Lautrec. In 1885, the impresario behind Le Chat Noir, Rodolphe Salis, moved with great fanfare to larger premises around the corner at 12 Rue Victor-Masse. Bruant opened Le Mirliton in the old location at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart. Toulouse-Lautrec was a keen customer at both establishments becoming a close friend of Bruant, intrigued by his brand of vaudevillian chanson réaliste. The main attraction was his insulting humour as he goaded and taunted the audience. ‘Bruant had nothing but contempt for the people who came to Montmartre to seek out low life in his establishment. “They’re a lot of idiots,” said Aristide, “they don’t even understand what I sing to them. They can’t understand because they don’t know what it is to starve. I take my revenge by treating them worse than dogs. They laugh till the tears run down their cheeks; they think I’m joking. But it’s the thought of the past, and the horrors I’ve seen, that makes me speak as I do.”’ Bruant was born in 1851 to a bourgeois landowner but the family soon after lost their fortune and he made his way to Paris at the age of 15 to look for work. Drawn to the rich slang of the working class in the cities north eastern arrondissements such as Belleville and Montmartre, he began writing songs with verlan and set himself up as a troubadour of the Parisian poor. His trademark style was this broad-brimmed black hat, black cape, red shirt and scarf, and black leather boots. ‘Like Lautrec, but with a more humanitarian indignation and a deeper anger, he sympathised with the world of the outcasts. He sang of the dregs, the dens, the brothels and the prisons, the wastelands where slept the down-and-outs and the roughs of the district fought their battles. Lautrec did not share Bruant’s compassion. He [as an aristocrat] was a complete stranger to the pity that flavoured his friend’s songs’. Bruant became a rich man with his act, taking his show to larger theatres in the 1890s such as the Eldorado (CIRC.669-1967 and E.228-1921) and Les Ambassadeurs (CIRC.551-1962 and E.227-1921). His increased success and affluence over the years became incongruous with the authenticity of his performance as a voice of the poor but he nonetheless continued in the same vein, working up until his death in 1925.
Collection
Accession number
CIRC.551-1962

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Record createdFebruary 18, 2003
Record URL
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