Erin Hagen

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at the Grand Palais

The Grand Palais hosts a variety of exceptional temporary exhibits and events. However, one you definitely shouldn't miss is the current 'Toulouse-Lautrec: Resolutely Modern' exhibit. Here, we'll explore a brief history of the Grand Palais, and the prolific artist. Also, we'll take you through the exhibit and point out pieces that might capture your imagination. Join us as we visit Toulouse-Lautrec at the Grand Palais!

Brief History of the Grand Palais

In the beginning, the building's intention was to be used as an art and exhibition space. As Paris was to host the Universal Expo in 1900, it was clear they needed a large structure to accommodate the event. Consequently, the construction of the Grand Palais - or Large Palace - began in 1897. Also, the Petit Palais - yes, Little Palace - was built at the same time, and is located right across the street.

During World War II, the Nazis used the building as a storehouse for vehicles and other munitions. In addition, they hosted two Nazi propaganda art exhibits there. At the end of the War, the Germans opened fire on the building, as the allies had occupied it. There was extensive damage to the structure, which was later repaired. If you look carefully, there are still some 'battle scars' visible on the Grand Palais' facade.

Along with art exhibits, the venue hosts equestrian and car shows, fashion events, and concerts. The building is a work of art itself, and was listed as a National Historical Monument of France in 2000.

Interesting to note:

The Grand Palais also has a Police station located within.


How do Parisians spend the cold and rainy seasons? Why, galleries and museums of course! And we are certainly spoiled for choice here, to be sure.

The Grand Palais' current retrospective, 'Toulouse-Lautrec: Resolutely Modern', is on until January 27, 2020. What's extraordinary about this particular exhibit is the fact that so many museums and galleries worked together to assemble the collection. A herculean effort, for sure. The Musée d'Orsay, the Musée de l'Orangerie, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, the town of Albi, and the Grand Palais all collaborated to create this exceptional exhibit. Bravo!

The end result is a comprehensive, respectful, and playful look at the man's varying styles and themes, his life, his work, as well as documenting his progression as an artist.

Not Just a Cliché

When an artist, or any famous person for that matter, ceases to be human and becomes a caricature, everyone loses. Lautrec has been dead for a century, and yet we know him as the hard-partying little man who enjoyed the nightlife and the company of many women.

While it is true that we cannot talk about Lautrec without mentioning the Moulin Rouge, or the mythic bohemian art scene in Montmartre, there is more depth to explore. Perhaps this is why the exhibit resonates so strongly, we are able to see beyond the cliché and into the work of a dedicated and innovative artist.


The exhibit is divided into the following themes:

  1. Delighted by Everything
  2. A Fierce Naturalism
  3. Carmen, Jeanne, Suzanne
  4. Around the XX
  5. The Dandy
  6. Capital Pleasure
  7. La Goulue's Grand Finale
  8. For All to Read
  9. Two Black Gloves
  10. The Eternal Feminine
  11. Fast-Paced
  12. At the End?


The wide array of pieces, as well as the interesting manner in which they are presented, is very well done. With each of the 12 themes, the presentation, lighting, sound, and film elements change. It is really a discovery, even for those that already know and appreciate his work. The varying array of elements include realism and classical styled portraiture, lithographs, posters, sketches, abstract art, advertisements, large canvases, and barely recognizable scribbles.

Lautrec lived fast and died young, yet judging by the crowds of people waiting to get into the exhibit, he remains one of France's most treasured and unique artists.


  • After heading through security, you will notice a sign that says 'vestiaire', which means 'coat check'. Please do take advantage of this service, as it is free of charge!
  • Audioguides are available in several languages for this exhibit. However, there is a 5€ charge for the privilege. Conveniently, as you go up the stairs towards the exhibit you will find restrooms as well as a restaurant called, the Comptoir Moka. Just in case anyone needs a break!
  • On your way out, be sure not to miss the boutique. Who doesn't love buying postcards as souvenirs of your favourite pieces at museums and galleries? Notably, the Grand Palais has published a hardcover book of the exhibit.
  • One last thing. If you are looking for a place to rest and relax after your art experience, there is an excellent brasserie nearby. Fittingly, it is called, Le Grand Palais. We may or may not have indulged in a café crème there after the's a tough life here in Paris!

Your Visit to the Grand Palais

If you would like to catch the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the Grand Palais before it closes, we highly recommend that you purchase a timed ticket online. Also, the Grand Palais suggests that people arrive half an hour before the 'start time' of their ticket.

Address: 3 Avenue du Général Eisenhower, 75008, PARIS

Hours of Operation of the Exhibit:

Tuesday- CLOSED

Thursday, Sunday, and Monday- 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday- 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

*Closed on December 25, 2019.

Ticket price: 16€

Love this article? Why not share it:

Buy with confidence

Free cancellation

Plans can change, we get it. All non-activated passes are eligible for a refund within 90 days of your purchase date.

Find out more

Got a question?

Check out our FAQs or live chat with our customer service agents now

See our FAQs

The Paris Pass® is highly rated, but don't just take our word for it!

Have a 5% discount, on us!

More savings? You're welcome. Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, vacation inspiration and much more.

  • Thick check Icon