Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

Reader 1

Mary MacNaughton

Reader 2

Juliet Koss

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This thesis examines the relationships cabaret dancer Jane Avril formed with artist Toulouse-Lautrec and photographer Paul Sescau. As the star dancer of the Moulin rouge, Avril enlisted these two artists to create promotional images for her that set her apart from other performers in the competitive entertainment scene of the 1890s. This ability to direct her own advertisement methods was a creative opportunity that was available to few women during this time. These three figures were friends and artistic partners who lived in the outcast of society in fin-de-siecle Montmartre where they worked together and supported one another. Their many collaborations prove that Avril as well aware of the power she had in commissioning the most successful avant-garde artists of her time. This thesis studies Toulouse Lautrec’s painting Jane Avril Leaving the Moulin Rouge in chapter one, his poster, Jardin de Paris in chapter two, and Paul Sescau’s photograph of Avril in chapter three. Moving from Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting and poster to Paul Sescau’s photograph, I will show how Avril utilized multiple mediums to disseminate her image across Paris. Ultimately, mass media afforded Avril the most direct agency in shaping her public image. These collaborations prove that Toulouse-Lautrec in particular had an acute awareness of the public persona Avril crafted as a sophisticated yet unorthodox dancer.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.