Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Steinlen was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, and completed his studies at Lausanne University before starting a career as a creative trainee in a textile mill in Mulhouse, eastern France. While in his 20s, the painter François Bocion urged him and his wife Emilie to migrate to the Parisian creative area of the Marais District while he was still refining his craft. Aristide Bruant, the founder and performer of the vaudeville, and other businesses hired Steinlen to carry the message after he met people with the painting Adolphe Willette who exposed him to the artistic community at Le Chat Noir.

Steinle n's works of pastoral vistas, flowers, and nudity were on exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants in the mid-1890s. Les Chanteurs des Rues, a lithograph he made in 1895, served as the cover art for Chansons de Montmartre, a book by Éditions Flammarion that featured 16 other creative artworks that depicted Paul Delmet's Belle Époque songs. Les Maîtres de l'Affiche released 5 of his paintings.

Steinlen spent most of his time painting pictures of some of the more challenging aspects of life and ecosystems, including Montmartre and its surroundings. Colette, his daughter, appears in a lot of his works.  In addition to paints and sketches, he regularly made sculptures, most notably statues of cats, which are a recurring motif in many artworks.   Numerous of Steinlen's illustrations depicted cats; he even produced and published a collection of his works named Dessins Sans Paroles Des Ch. 

In addition to several other publications, such as L'Assiette au Beurre and Les Humouristes, a worded magazine he and a dozen other artists jointly established in 1911, Steinlen made contributions regularly to Le Rire and Gil Blas periodicals.

He created thousands of illustrations between 1883 and 1920, many of which were done behind a pseudonym to avoid political problems related to his scathing criticisms of social injustices. Pablo Picasso, among other artists, was inspired by his work.

Théophile Steinlen passed away in Paris in 1923 and was placed to rest in the Montmartre graveyard, the Cimetière Saint-Vincent. His works are currently being displayed in numerous museums worldwide, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Americas, and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1936, Pierre Vannier built a stone plaque in Paris's Square Jol Le Tac in honor of Steinlen.

Biography of Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (French/Swiss, 1859-1923), a Lausanne native, started his artistic career as a printing fabric designer. He arrived in Montmartre after moving to Paris in 1881. He regularly visited the literary cabaret known as Le Chat Noir, which was formed by a former Swiss immigrant named Louis Rodolphe Salis. In contrast to authors like Paul Verlaine, Steinlen made good friends with artists like Adolphe Willette, Félix Vallotton, Jean-Louis Forain, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Louis Anquetin, Henry Somm, and Caran d'Ache there. Le Chat Noir's artists make something approximating a secret society or club for fashionistas. As soon as Steinlen started to produce images for the connected monthly Le Chat Noir, he swiftly became known as one of Paris's most renowned designers around the turn of the century.

Steinlen sometimes submitted artwork under the alias Jean Caillou to other humorous periodicals like Le Mirliton and, starting in 1891, Gil Blas, for whom he produced over 400 sketches. Steinle n's fame outside of France was founded by the success of his work with Gil Blas. Le Croquis, La Revue Illustrée, and Le Canard Blanc were a few of the more than 30 periodicals he also published to. With a concentration on the capitalist poor, Steinlen represented many facets of Parisian society in his sketches and drawings.

He actively designed dramatic posters, like his contemporaries Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha. This was a valuable means for him to advertise his work and largely increased his reputation. Steinlen, a friend and partner of the pianist Aristide Bruant, illustrated a range of works, including Guy de Maupassant's Le Vagabond and Anatole France's L'Affaire Crainquebille, as well as lead sheet covers.

In 1894, he had the first of many profitable displays of his drawings and paintings. In 1909, he obtained the recognition of having a space at the Salon d'Automne exclusively devoted to his art. Steinlen used many toolsets, including charcoal, ink, watercolor, and black, blue, and colored chalks. Even during his time at school, when he sketched sketches of cats in the margins of his notebook, it was clear that he had a soft corner for general animals and cats especially. Steinlen claims to have been captivated by cats since of their charm, mobility, and character, as well as because of their symbolic qualities. According to tales from the time, his apartment on the rue Caulaincourt in Paris functioned as a gathering spot for all the neighborhood cats. A cat typically figures in most of his paintings, magazine covers, lithographs, and advertising in the latter years. In his early years as a painter, he sold cat drawings in return for food. So many of Steinlen's cat studies were published in the undated book Des Chats: Images Sans Paroles. After the artist's demise, other newly declassified drawings were included in Georges Lecomte's 1933 Paris edition Chats Et Autres Bêtes Dessins Inédits. This broad, frieze-like image was one of two renderings of cats created to adorn the margins of a special four-page addition to the weekly magazine L'Illustration, which was released in March 1901 and contained an essay by Jacques Dalbray on cats.


French-Swiss artist Théophile Alexandre Steinlen is best remembered for his Art Nouveau paintings and graphic designs. Steilen frequently depicted the bourgeois cabaret scene of turn-of-the-century Paris and animals, especially cats. Steinlen was attracted to cats for their elegance, personality, and mobility, as well as for their symbolic qualities. Steinlen, born on November 10th, 1859, in Lausanne, Switzerland, first studied at the University of Lausanne to research design before moving to Paris. Steinlen first interacted with members of the Montmarte artistic avant-garde in the renowned Le Chat Noir club, notably Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Louis Anquetin, Adolphe Willette, and Félix Vallotton. Through many shows at the Salon des Indépendants, he gained creative recognition while creating posters for the Le Chat Noir. On December 13, 1923, the artist died suddenly in Paris, France. His works are currently being held by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and other institutions.

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