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Le Matin au Pied de l'Echafaud (Morning at the Foot of the Scaffold)

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901) was a French painter, printmaker, draftsman, and illustrator. The period he created his art was known as the Belle Époque and his focus was on the decadence in Parisian society. This poster advertised the serialization in the magazine 'Le Matin' of the memoirs of Abbe Faure, entitled 'At the foot of the Gallows' (Au Pied de l'Echafaud). He was a chaplain at the prison of La Roquette and witnessed thirty-eight executions. One of Lautrec's rare nods to social realism, the posters stark composition and blood red & black colour scheme underscore its grisly subject. The abbot's narrative is actually banal and repetitive, but Lautrec transforms it into riveting drama. With an eye to the sensational, he places the viewpoint in the lower left corner, exactly at the guillotine's lever, allowing the spectator to look up at the blade, across the neck notch and down into a basket opened to catch the severed head