Herbert Palmer Gallery

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

(French/Swiss, 1859–1923)

l'aisne devastée by théophile alexandre steinlen

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

L'Aisne Devastée, 1914–1918

Price on Request

Biography

Timeline

A native of Lausanne, Theohile-Alexandre Steinlen began his artistic career as a designer of printed fabrics.
Several of Steinlen’s studies of cats were compiled in an undated publication entitled Des chats; images sans paroles, while other, previously unknown drawings were published after the artist’s death in Georges Lecomte’s Chats at autres boes; dessins ints, which appeared in Paris in 1933.
In his early, penurious years as an artist, he would sell drawings of cats in exchange for food, and in later years a cat would usually appear in most of his drawings, magazine illustrations, lithographs or posters, almost to the point of being a sort of signature.
His house on the rue Caulaincourt in Paris was, according to contemporary accounts, a meeting place for all the cats of the quartier.
Cats seem to have appealed to Steinlen for their charm, movement and character, as well as for their symbolic properties.
His fondness for animals, and in particular cats, was noted even as early as his schooldays, when he drew sketches of cats in the margins of his notebooks.
As a draughtsman, Steinlen employed a wide variety of media, including black, blue and coloured chalks, ink, pencil, watercolour and charcoal.
He enjoyed the first of many successful exhibitions of paintings and drawings in 1894, and in 1909 gained the distinction of a room devoted solely to his work at the Salon d’Automne.
This large, frieze-like drawing was one of a pair of drawings of cats intended to illustrate the margins of a special four-page supplement to the weekly journal L’Illustration, accompanying an article on cats by Jacques Dalbray published in March 1901.
A friend and collaborator of the songwriter Aristide Bruant, Steinlen provided illustrations for sheet music covers, and also illustrated a number of books, including Guy de Maupassant’s La Vagabond and Anatole Frances L’Affaire Crainquebille.