Théophile Alexandre STEINLEN
Nothing apparently predisposed Theophile Alexandre Steinlen to become one of the emblematic artists of the cabarets Montmartrois and one of the major painters illustrating the social condition in the Paris of the 1900s. He was born in Lausanne on November 10, 1859 in a family of " Artists. Indeed, his grandfather taught drawing in Vevey and his nine uncles were designers. After two years of theology studies, he naturally turned to the drawing he had practiced since his childhood. In 1879, he left Switzerland to begin an apprenticeship as an industrial designer in a textile factory in Mulhouse at one of his uncles. He meets Emilie, his future wife.
In 1881, the couple settled in Paris, in the Montmartre district. Théophile Alexandre Steinlen met the artist Willette, father of Pierrot and Colombine, who introduced him to Rodolphe Salis, also a native of Lausanne and owner of the Cabaret Le Chat Noir. He met Jean-Louis Forain, Aristide Bruant, Toulouse-Lautrec, Félix Vallotton, Alphonse Allais and Paul Verlaine. Steinlen collaborated from the beginning with the newspaper "Le Chat" with satirical drawings that met a great success. As early as 1885, he also collaborated in "La Revue illustrée", "La Gazette des Chasseurs", "La Caricature", then in the illustrated "Gil Blas", "le Rire" and "l'Assiette au beurre". He was one of the artists to have worked the most for the Parisian cabarets. At the same time, he contributed to the revival of color engraving and was also well-known as a poster artist, thanks to his first solo exhibition which was organized in 1893 at La Bodinière Gallery.
From 1893, Steinlen exhibited paintings at the Salon des Indépendants, practicing almost all genres: Nudes, Landscapes, Flowers, Portraits and of course Cats.
In 1901, he was naturalized French. In 1903, the first major retrospective of the artist was organized by the publisher Edouard Pelletan. He also exhibited in London in 1914, before the general mobilization. He then endeavored to illustrate the war "in the rear", describing with precision the daily life of the civilians. It was only after the war in 1917 that a very important exhibition was organized concerning these "War Works"
Théophile Alexandre Steinlen died in Paris in 1923 in his eternal Montmartrois districts.
Made famous by his poster of the Chat Noir, he made this iconographic theme his emblem, symbolizing freedom and dream world. Cats will be his subjects of choice, the sleeping, irritated, players ...
But above all, Steinlen is the artist who portrayed the popular manners of the Parisian life of the 1900s, approaching Zola's naturalistic approach: he observes very rigorously, before chewing on a notebook of memory help, which allows him Thus creating elaborate works. They accurately relate the Parisian Belle Epoque, the center of world cultural life. Historians sometimes use them as true testimonies of a reawakened era.
He uses many techniques such as Indian ink, watercolor, oil, pencil as well as pastel and gouache. In this work dated 1900, it is the colored pencils and the ink that are used.