This piece was featured within a 1970s catalogue raisonne which underlines its authenticity and would have helped in the auction. We find in this composition a simple study of a rider on horseback, with no other detail included in the scene. Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated by horses, often drawing them on his family's estate. His father was also a keen rider and perhaps it might even be him that is pictured here. Henri felt sad that he could not follow in the footsteps of his father and so chose to draw and paint horses instead. It is not believed that his father entirely accepted him with the level of love that you might expect between father and son, because of his own physical problems and this may have impacted Henri's self-confidence, though it is hard to make strong judgements about any relationship from more than a century ago. The family were aristocrats which at least ensured that Henri could achieve much in his life, even with the physical problems that blighted him.
You will discover many more depictions of horses within our content, both with paintings and other study drawings. It is a difficult genre that requires considerable practice to master, and Henri understood this. He would sit around the estate drawing in various sketchbooks, always attempting to perfect his skills as a draughtsman. Some forget about just how talented he was in drawing, because of his later success with lithographs and oil paintings, but all of his achievements owed a debt to this medium. He would study in Paris as a means to expanding his technical expertise, always keen and willing to learn more about his craft.
Besides Horserider in Top Hat, you may also be interested in some of the artist's more famous paintings, such as Marcelle Lender, Dancing the Bolero in Chilpéric, At Montrouge (Rosa la Rouge) and May Milton, Dancer. He produced a good number of artworks across multiple mediums within his career and made full use of his short lifetime. He was passionate about his work, but also found that whilst working he could keep out some of the problems in his life. He would enter a new world and anxieties or frustrations about his physical problems were temporarily forgotten. Many artists have used art in this manner, as a means of therapy, and often they have turned out to be the most talented of all. Much depends on the style of the artist, and how much is down to emotion against the technical precision found in some other movements from the past few centuries.