"This was Lautrec's first attempt at his
La Chaine Simpson poster that was rejected by Louis Bougle, the
Simpson representative in France, because of it's inaccurate depiction
of the very thing it was meant to sell - the bicycle's chain. The
professional racer shown here in training is Jimmy Michael, whom Bougle
managed. (The famous young English champion, with his celebrated tooth-pick
in his mouth) Although Lautrec left the lithograph unfinished, he
issued an edition of two hundred, no doubt believing a market for
the print existed among Micheal's fans.
Following Dunlop's invention of the pneumatic tire in 1889, competitive
cycling became the most fashionable sport in Paris. It's rise in
popularity was stimulated by the cycle manufacturing business, which
financed race tracks and supported a new sporting press in specialized
magazines and news columns. By the mid 1890's, cycling champions
had become popular heroes and the race at the Velodrome Buffalo
and the Velodrome de la Seine were favorite places to go on Sunday
afternoons. Lautrec went often in the company of Tristan Bernard,
the author and playwright who had succumbed to cyclomania and become
manager off the Buffalo and editor of 'Le Journal des Velocipedistes.'
In 1895 Lautrec produced several lithographs set at the track including
a portrait of his friend Bernard. These are what led to his commission
to design a poster advertising Simpson bicycle chains" (San
Diego Museum of Art)
During the 1960s the renowned French printer, Mourlot Freres, printed
this superb series "Les Affiches de Toulouse-Lautrec"
for collectors. They are reduced lithographic versions of Lautrec's
most famous works. They are truly the most beautiful printing we
have been able to find in this size format.
As vintage printings of Lautrec's work, in all formats, reach high
prices, this mid-century printing offers a superb alternative at
a reasonable price that will only appreciate in value.