For many years, La Revue Blanche by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was an oft-talked-about but rarely seen work at the Wright Museum. Kept behind closed doors due to its fragile condition, the color lithograph has now been fully restored to its former splendor.
(The poster was featured in the new "Significant Object" series in a recent issue of Beloit College Magazine; you can see that article here.)
Toulouse-Lautrec created this whimsical piece in 1895 as an advertisement for Revue Blanche, or The White Review. With her tall feather -plumed hat, fur stole, and polka-dot overcoat, a fashionable woman cuts a stylish figure on the ice. The skater has been identified as Misia Natanson, a Parisian icon who regulated a salon that brought together many top avant-garde writers, artists, and composers of the day. It was at one of her hosted gatherings that she met and became friends with Toulouse-Lautrec, who completed a number of different pieces that captured her likeness.
La Revue Blanche was acquired by the Wright Museum in 1956 and has remained an integral part of the collection. However, due to the deterioration of the paper, which had become quite yellow and brittle over time, the piece was unable to be on public display. Posters are particularly susceptible to condition issues because they are often printed on acidic papers that do not stand the test of time.
This year, as part of the Wanda Hollensteiner Endowed Conservation Fund, La Revue Blanche was professionally treated at the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis. The piece received several “baths” in order to reduce paper acidity, discolorations, and staining. Several small tears were also repaired and creases were smoothed giving La Revue Blanche a much needed facelift. In order to sustain these treatments, the piece is now housed in a brand new archival frame.
In addition to preserving the work, the Wanda Hollensteiner Endowment also generously funds a guest lecturer. This year the Wright Museum welcomes Stephen Eisenman, Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Professor Eisenman’s lecture, “Toulouse-Lautrec: The Modernist as Populist,” will take place Wednesday (Feb. 8) at the Wright Museum of Art in the Logan Room. There will be a reception in the courtyard starting at 6:30 p.m. with an opportunity to view the newly restored piece; the lecture will follow at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to the talk and encouraged to come and see this newly restored piece of art.