Cranleigh Arts Centre
West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
Pilgrims of Babylon - the Artists of Montmartre
Douglas Skeggs, MA Cantab is an art historian, international lecturer, author and TV presenter who took us on a tour, or even romp, of Montmartre during the mid to late 19th century. This often sinister and dangerous place with its labyrinth of winding lanes and alleyways cascading down the hill with its renowned windmills became the places of entertainment and inspiration to many artists in the area - artists such as Renoir in the Moulin de la Galette, painting his famous crowd scenes, to Toulouse Lautrec's vibrant and evocative can-can girls and late night revellers in the Moulin Rouge.
Artists were also attracted to the area because it was a
cheap place to live; drink flowed freely and drugs were readily available.
Social barriers were broken down and the bohemian lifestyle inspired the
artists' imagination but also impaired their ability and their health - notably
Lautrec who died at the age of 37 from consuming too much absinthe (bitter green
aniseed-flavoured liquor) whilst sitting in the Moulin de la Galette day after
day observing and painting.