The Metropolitan Museum has in its collection an exceptional body of art in a range of media by the late-nineteenth-century French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. In exhibiting a large portion of these works, the Metropolitan once again invites the visitor—and the reader of this accompanying catalogue—to examine the product of a single fertile, inventive, and tireless mind through the rich veins of material housed at the Museum. The exhibition also gives us the chance to reassess the body of work in terms of recent scholarship. Additionally, since much of Toulouse-Lautrec's work is on paper and can be exhibited for only intermittent and limited periods of time, this show has given us an opportunity to examine these works from the point of view of conservation. Indeed, as it turned out, a number of the works on paper underwent extensive treatment before going on view.
The Museum's collection of art by Toulouse-Lautrec, the result largely of generous donations from private collectors, includes paintings, drawings, and examples of his finest and most important prints. The artist excelled in lithography; a hundred years ago his bold, persistent experimenting gave this medium an entirely new appearance just when the centennial of its invention was being marked in Europe. In fact, with the wealth of examples at the Metropolitan Museum, we now can celebrate the bicentennial of lithography through the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, the artist who virtually reinvented this medium.