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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a 19th century artist celebrated for his depictions of the Moulin Rouge and Parisian nightlife, suffered from an unknown disorder. His symptoms were not only rare, but also difficult to determine. Both during his lifetime and following his death potential diagnoses have proved controversial, including the most popularly supported suggestion of pycnodysostosis. Addressing the ongoing debate of Toulouse-Lautrec's diagnosis, this article reconsiders the evidence. It summarises multiple perspectives and draws on more recent medical research, while acknowledging that the available sources are often unreliable. Ultimately, while there may be no definitive solution to the mystery of Toulouse-Lautrec's diagnosis, it is possible to draw one conclusion. Observing its impact on his life and work, it is clear that the condition formed the foundation of Toulouse-Lautrec's artistic career, shaping the way he perceived the world and defining the artworks that are now so widely admired.

Original publication




Journal article





Publication Date



Dwarfism, Historical medical genetics, Orthopaedics, Pycnodysostosis, Toulouse-Lautrec