A painting by Toulouse-Lautrec in a hospital setting comes up for auction

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"Une opération par le Docteur Péan à l'Hôpital International" by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is estimated to fetch 600,000- 900,000 euros at Artcurial.

A very rare work by Toulouse-Lautrec has recently been rediscovered. "Une opération par le Docteur Péan à l'Hôpital International" (An operation by Doctor Péan at the International Hospital) will be offered at auction in June at Artcurial, on the occasion of its "Impressionist & Modern Art" sale.

Art lovers mainly know Toulouse-Lautrec for his paintings depicting the various pleasures offered by the French capital in the late 19th century. So much so that art critic Gustave Geffroy once called him the "chronicler of Paris par excellence." "Une opération par le Docteur Péan à l'Hôpital International" is not one of these works.

This painting, done in 1891, represents a surgical operation in a Parisian hospital. Toulouse-Lautrec was particularly familiar with the medical world, as he suffered from multiple conditions from a very young age. Thanks to his doctor, Frédéric Baumgarten, the French artist was allowed to follow Dr. Péan during his operations, and to paint them from life.

While very few 19th century artists were interested in the goings-on of hospitals, specialists know of only two other paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec on this theme. "Dr. Péan Operating" c.1891-1892 is on display at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, USA., while "Examen à la faculté de médecine de Paris" (Examination at the Paris Medical School) is in the collection of the Albi museum in France.

In addition to representing a rare theme in Toulouse-Lautrec's work, "Une opération par le Docteur Péan à l'Hôpital International" has remained in the family of Frédéric Baumgarten since its creation. It will appear on the market for the first time on June 29 at Artcurial, which has estimated it at between 600,000 and 900,000 euros. A modest sum compared to the 22.4 million dollars (approximately 18.8 million euros) that "La Blanchisseuse" sold for at Christie's in 2005.

"The exceptional quality of this painting, its subject and its history qualifies this as one of Toulouse-Lautrec's most unique works of art. It is, without any doubt, one of the most important by the artist to appear on the Parisian market for many years," said Bruno Jaubert, director, Impressionist & Modern Art, Artcurial.

Caroline Drzewinski