Goulue, La

BORN 13 Jul 1866 - DIED 21 Jan 1929, Paris: Lariboisière
BIRTH NAME Weber, Louise-Josephine
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Cimetière de Montmartre, 20 Avenue Rachel (division 31, ligne 01, numéro 13)

Louise-Josephine Weber was the daughter of a laundry woman, probably from Jewish descent. When she was sixteen she started visiting dance halls and dancing at clubs around Paris. She was bisexual and she drank heavily, earning her the nickname La Goulue (The Glutton). After she met the painter Renoir she was a model for several artists and photographers.

Success came as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, where she performed the 'chalut', an early version of the Can-Can. She danced together with Jacques Renaudin, who was known as Valentin le Desosse because he looked like a skeleton.

She earned a lot of money as a dancer, but an attempt to open her own music hall failed. She had many affair before she married the illusionist J.N. Droxler, who travelled around with her. At a certain time she fired a shot at him and injured him, but he wasn't angry. After the failure of her music hall she started suffering from depression, drank heavily and became fat. Her son Simon died in 1920 and she became a flower seller in a caravan that was decorated by Toulouse-Lautrec.

In 1925 she was found at Neuilly-sur-Marne without teeth and with grey hair. When she returned to Montmarte in 1928 nobody recognised her and she sold peanuts and sigarettes on the street near the Moulin Rouge. She died early in 1929 and was buried at the Pantin cemetery in a suburb of Paris. Later her remains were moved to Montmartre cemetery.


The grave of Louise Weber - known as La Goulue - at Montmartre Cimetière, Paris.
Picture by Androom (18 May 2005)


• Cullen, Catherine, Paris, The Woman's Travel Guide, Virago Press, London, 1993

Gounod, Charles

Published: 12 Jul 2008
Last update: 22 Oct 2022