After the death of his brother, Henris parents separated and a nanny eventually took care of him. At the age of eight, Henri went to live with his mother in Paris where he drew sketches and caricatures in his exercise workbooks. The family quickly realized that Henris talents lay in drawing and painting. A friend of his father, René Princeteau, visited sometimes to give informal lessons. Some of Henris early paintings are of horses, a speciality of Princeteau, and a subject Lautrec revisited in his "Circus Paintings".
In 1875, Toulouse-Lautrec returned to Albi because his mother had concerns about his health. He took thermal baths at Amélie-les-Bains and his mother consulted doctors in the hope of finding a way to improve her sons growth and development.