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May Milton

Although a man of means and aristocratic lineage, the Post-Impressionist artist Toulouse-Lautrec seemed more at home in Paris’s working-class Montmartre district with its cabarets, circuses, and brothels, than in the city’s bourgeois center. Many of his favorite models were female performers, such as Jane Avril, May Belfort, and the English dancer May Milton.

Milton performed during the winter of 1895 at the Moulin Rouge before leaving for the United States, where she was never heard from again. This image was started as a poster for her American tour, which never materialized, and was later issued as an independent print. Picasso is known to have owned a copy, which appears in his painting The Blue Studio (1901). Milton is believed by some scholars to have achieved her ultimate fame as the model for the green-faced woman on the right-hand side of Lautrec’s masterpiece At the Moulin Rouge (1892/95).

The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes other images of female performers by Lautrec, including Mary Hamilton (Eskenazi Museum of Art 92.130) and Yvette Guilbert (Eskenazi Museum of Art 71.93.3).

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
French, 1864–1901
May Milton
1895
Color lithograph on paper
Image: 30 5/8 x 23 7/8 in. (77.8 x 60.6 cm); sheet: 31 1/8 x 25 5/8 in. (79.0 x 65.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 72.64