Magnet Toulouse-Lautrec - The Clown Cha-U-Kao
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
The Clown Cha-U-Kao, 1895 - Oil on card H. 64; W. 49 cm
A dancer and clown at the Nouveau Cirque and the Moulin Rouge, Cha-U-Kao owes her Japanese sounding name to the phonetic transcription of the French words "chahut" (an acrobatic dance derived from the cancan) and "chaos" referring to the uproar that occurred when she came on stage. Like La Goulue, Cha-U-Kao is a recurring figure in the painter's work and belongs to the world of Parisian showbiz in the late 19th century. Her work as a clown and sometimes even an acrobat nonetheless brought her closer to the circus tradition - which also fascinated the painter - than to the cabarets.