The main focus of the drawing are the two performers who accompany a horse. In the background we find elements of the circus structure loosely added, with some shadows then incorporated into the nearest foreground. Much of the work is relaxed, suggesting that the artist worked quickly and was intending this piece to be a study work, rather than a professional drawing with the intention of being sold. The main areas of concern can always be determined by where the artist adds the strongest, darkest lines, or where they have gone over a part several times. In this case that would be the outlines of the three figures in front of us, particularly the front of the horse. Figurative art is decidely challenging and any mistakes can be spotted by anyone, because of how we are familiar with the correct look of these items in real life. Toulouse-Lautrec was, of course, a highly skilled draughtsman who could achieve almost anything with the right amount of pre-planning. We can compare Au Cirque: Dans les Coulisses to the artist's other circus based works, most of which would use colour to bring these scenes to life.
The drawing was put up for auction in 2020 at Sotheby's, Paris and was given an initial estimate of 20-30,000 Euros. It received a sale price of 42,500 Euros, making it one of the most expensive sketches by this artist to date. Interest in his work remains strong, both with collectors and also the general public and exhibitions of his work are seen fairly regularly across Europe and the US. He had an impact on modern graphic design and so regularly crops up within art history studies but it is the charming scenes of entertainment in Paris which is the biggest factor in his popularity. Besides the circus found here, other related artworks included At the Circus, Entering the Ring and At the Circus, Fernando the Rider, to name just two of many.
This piece is listed as being 22,7 x 17,4 cm; 8⅞ x 6⅞ inches in size, and passed through the family before being sold in the 1960s, after which it has changed hands several times between private collectors. It appeared in the 1971 Toulouse-Lautrec et son œuvre by M. G. Dortu which was a catalogue raisonne of all of the artist's work that was known about at that point. This helped to increase the item's valuation, in adding authenticity to its sale, which buyers will always be encouraged by. Its final sale price, to an anonymous buyer, was a little above the estimate.