Adrian Tahourdin at the TLS:
Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso never met. Picasso first went to Paris from Malaga via Barcelona with his friend Carles Casagemas, in October 1900. He visited the Exposition Universelle and saw his own work “Last Moments” (1899), a painting inspired by the death of his sister Conchita in 1895, exhibited in the Grand Palais. Casagemas would commit suicide in 1901, over a broken love affair – Picasso’s Blue period portrait of him (1901) clearly shows the bullet wound in his temple.
By the time the Spaniard arrived in Paris, Lautrec was already gravely ill, and had left the French capital (he died in September 1901 at the age of thirty-six at the family chateau of Malromé in the Gironde). Born in Albi into an aristocratic and slightly inbred family (his mother Adèle Tapié de Céleyran and father Comte Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec were first cousins), Henri was known at school as “le petit bonhomme”. His father was interested in horses and tried to encourage his son in his passion, without success. According to Henri Perruchot’s slightly novelistic (he uses dialogue) but very readable Vie de Toulouse-Lautrec, Comte Alphonse later developed a phobia of bridges and to avoid them would swim across rivers or, if the water was too cold, would walk over stepping stones. His son Henri stopped growing early on (he was said to be 1 metre 52 cm) and, partly as a consequence, at the age of thirteen broke his left femur in a fall; fifteen months later he broke his right femur. His forearms were foreshortened, while his fingers were enormous, as were his genitals.