In the musical My Paris, John Riddle portrays René Grenier. Albert (René) Grenier (1858–1925) and Toulouse-Lautrec were fellow students in the Paris atelier of academic history painter Fernand Cormon during the 1880s and became fast friends: Toulouse-Lautrec even lived briefly with Grenier and his mistress, Lili, an actress and model, and made several portrayals of the couple. They took Toulouse-Lautrec to parties, dance-halls and cabarets, and photographs of the time show him dressed up with his friends in exotic costumes. Meanwhile, another set of friends at Cormon’s studio – Emile Bernard, Vincent van Gogh and Louis Anquentin – widened his horizons artistically and helped him find his own style.
Henri Rachou (1856-1944) was a portrait and landscape painter who is portrayed by Josh Grisetti in our production of My Paris. Rachou studied with the great painter Léon Bonnat at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Rachou met and befriended Toulouse-Lautrec there, and famously painted his portrait in 1882. Both artists later went on to study in Fernand Cormon’s studio. Rachou’s work was largely inspired by impressionism, and he exhibited his work at the Salon starting in 1880. He later became the curator of the Musee des Augustins in Toulouse, where he died in 1944.