Gabriel Tapie de Celeyran , Physician and Cousin of Toulouse Lautrec


André Fabre                            October 2012

Gabriel Tapie de Céleyran is the young doctor who gave to Henri de Toulouse Lautrec access  to the world of medicine.


 Gabriel was the cousin of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Here are some benchmarks of a rather complex genealogy [1] Henri's mother had a brother who married a cousin, Alix, sister of the father of Henri Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Among their children, Gabriel, who came from Midi to Paris in start his medical studies. He became Interne des hôpitaux in 1891, then assistant to the famous Professor Péan, then Physician of the International Hospital de la rue de la Santé  called nowadays Hospital Péan.

There is still a beautiful charcoal portrait of Gabriel from his cousin Henry then aged 12 years, it was in 1882, the year when Toulouse-Lautrec had decoded to portrait each member of his family. 


 Inbreeding has serious risks from birth, Henry was found carrying a serious bone defects, called "Pycnodysostosis", associating dwarfism grotesquely distorted, extreme fragility of the entire skeleton, due to repeated fractures, aggravating the delay stature.

The face of Toulouse-Lautrec, say contemporaries, was extended by a huge nose along with deformed lips too fleshy. Under a normal sized trunk hung two small legs atrophied.

Henry had despite his handicap lived a happy childhood. Despite the most barbarous treatment, such as applications of electric shock or repeated sessions of stretching limbs, growth stopped long before adolescence and dis stature remained that of a dwarf:

Here is what Henri's father wrote to his wife, Henri's mother, "Oh, dear Mother, God did not bless our union His will be done, but it is hard to see the order of nature ... on a poor harmless child who  never had a single bitter word for his father. Pity onus. "

In July 1881, Henry comes to Paris for baccalauréat, he fails but will get the degree at the September "catch up" session in Toulouse. Then, he decided, despite the hostility of his mother, but with the support of his uncle Charles and a friend of the family, René Princeteau specialist in paintings of hunting and equitation.

Henry is now living in Paris, where he soon became "artiste à la mode," iconic illustrator of a new Art.

He spends his days (and nights ...) to "sketch" (that's the word he uses) scenes of Parisian Bohemia. Montmartre is now,  Moulin Rouge or the countless "fleshpots" of Butte Montmartre.

There staged his favorite models: Jane Avril, diva from the world of night which came to end his days at La Salpetriere, Yvette Guilbert, the singer's favorite Sigmund Freud who is separated from his dedicated and Louise Weber, "eccentric dancer" specialist "cancan" who went into posterity under the name of "La Goulue" ("the glutton…".

Henry, just 37 years old, ravaged by syphilis and alcohol came to die near his mother at Castle Malromé in Gironde, in the castle of the Lautrec family. His last words were to his father rushed to his bedside: "I was sure you would not miss the kill."


 The middle of the Toulouse-Lautrec medicine fascinated him and Gabriel opened the doors wide, reflected the many sketches made by Henry in the operating room, including the famous portrait of Professor Péan practicing tonsillectomy. [2]

Gabriel quickly became inseparable companion of Henry: There is still a yellowed photograph showing the two cousins in the fastest model of the moment of motor vehicles. Both were passionate about cycling: Toulouse-Lautrec fond of the atmosphere velodrome, evidenced by his poster design for a brand of bicycle chains.

In fact, the two cousins shared the same fascination for the world of the night.


 The World of Henry's entire contents in one of his most famous paintings: The Red Mill promenade, painted in 1892. [3]

In the background, "La Goulue", star of the Moulin Rouge, adjusts his red hair. Around the table sat Edouard Dujardin, a novelist, an artist of Montmartre, Macarona, photographer Paul Sescau, Maurice Guibert, representing a famous firm of champagne connoisseur of Paris' bad places, "a woman who is can be Jane Avril, and a character's face illuminated by artificial light, May Milton, "The English Miss" who remained in Paris for a season before returning to New York.

 Against in-plane at the bottom of the table, side by side, slowly leaving the room, Gabriel Tapie de Céleyran flanked by his cousin, the dwarf Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ...



[1] Sur la généalogie de la famille Lautrec lire de Maurice Vuillier :  "Les comtes de Toulouse, les Lautrec et les Toulouse-Lautrec" (2005)

[2] Le portrait du Pr. Jules-Emile Péan, daté de 1891, est conservé au Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, Massachusetts) : on peut y remarquer l'absence de blouse et des gants chirurgicaux dont l'usage venait à peine d'être introduit aux Etats Unis

[3] Ce tableau de Toulouse-Lautrec est conservé à l'Art Institute de Chicago


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Date de dernière mise à jour : 30/07/2013

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