It was, for many, the best of times - an era with the fundamental character of the future sprang forth into the daily lives of people who had, only fifty years earlier, existed in almost medieval conditions. The 1880's and 1890's saw the first rewards of the modern industrialized world in mass-produced abundance. It was the era of "more" - more bread and wine, more newspapers and books, more textiles and fashionable garments and opportunities for modish extravagance. There were more places to go - music halls and vaudeville shows and popular entertainment at the circus, the race tracks, and brothels; more fun to be had and pipers to pay.

The fin de si├Ęcle brought the dawning of a new age and a new attitude toward life in France. And its greatest recorder of life and living in this period was a disfigured genius - a chronicler of all that was urbane and celebrated, a master of imagery and tragic figure whose life paralleled this bohemian revel: Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec.