Steinlen, Théophile Alexandre

1859 – 1923

Swiss born and educated, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen began his career as a textile designer in Mulhouse, France, before being lured to Paris by the thriving artistic community in Montmartre. Once there, he became an active participant in the notorious cabaret Le Chat Noir and was soon commissioned to create posters for the club’s owner Aristide Bruant. Steinlen’s color lithograph posters paved the way for other venues such as book and magazine illustrations and his work is synonymous with Belle Epoque graphics.

Beside these brightly colored images of cats and children and roosters, Steinlen created a body of work that was much more serious in tone. Keenly aware of the plight of the urban poor as portrayed by Émile Zola, he shifted his focus to black and white and color etchings produced in very small editions that portrayed the working class and some of the more unfortunate denizens of Montmartre.