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The Cover
January 17, 2001

Equestrienne (At the Circus Fernando)

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2001;285(3):260. doi:10.1001/jama.285.3.260

Had he been able to live as the nobleman he was born, said Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) in later life, he would not have become a painter. But because of a genetic bone disorder believed to be related to his parents' consanguineous marriage, Lautrec could neither ride nor take part in the other strenuous activities common to an aristocratic family in southern France. Instead, under the devoted eye of his mother, he spent much of his time drawing. When he was 18, he left the family estate in Albi and, accompanied by his mother, went to Paris where he studied painting with Leon Bonnat and Fernand Cormon; by the time he was 20 he had set up his own studio in the Montmartre quarter of Paris. Quickly he became an habitué of the nightclubs and cafés clustered at the foot of the hill: Moulin de la Galette, Moulin Rouge, Chat Noir—places and patrons that would acquire enduring fame because of his painting. The life he painted was the life he lived—the frenetic life of fin de siècle Paris and its singers, dancers, racetrack, circus performers, and café-goers. His mother disapproved of his lifestyle; his father did not forbid his career, but begged him to paint at least under a pseudonym—the family name was ancient, it should not be dishonored.