Theophile Alexandre Steinlen was very fond of cats, and often used his own cats as models and accommodated them in his posters. Steinlen's cats became a very popular feature of his work.
Born on the shores of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, Switzerland, Steinlen (1859 - 1923) studied philosophy at the university there and went on to accept a position as a trainee textile designer in Mulhouse, a town and commune in eastern France.
Whilst in his early twenties, and newly married, the young artist was persuaded by the painter Francois-Louis David Bocion, his tutor at the university, to move to the Montmartre district of Paris.
There he became acquainted with the avant garde artistic and literary social milieu of the Chat Noir (Black Cat)cabaret.
Steinlen became friends with and worked with the writer Emile Zola, the composer Paul Delmet, Jean Richepin and other poets, Toulouse-Lautrec the artist, and significantly the French cabaret singer, songwriter, comedian and nightclub owner Aristide Bruant.
Through his contacts Theophile Alexandre Steinlen established himself as a prominent illustrator of popular journals of the period such as Le Rire and Gil Blas, and contributed original lithographs to music publishers who used them as cover art for their popular sheet music.
Steinlen is perhaps best known for his wonderful commercial posters depicting Parisian life.
Often compared with the posters of his friend and fellow illustrator Toulouse-Lautrec, Steinlen's works are personal, simplistic and intimate.
These colorful lithograph posters provided an inexpensive means of advertising for the influx of mass produced goods entering the market place, as well as advertisng the popular cabaret and theatrical stars of the period.
Especially liked for his figures of cats that he had great fondness for, as seen in many of his paintings, drawings and sculptures.
Theophile Steinlen also used his daughter
Colette as a model.
He created hundreds of works, several of which were produced under a pseudonym such as Treelan and Pierre, to evade political trouble because of their sharp criticism of Paris society.
Originals of Steinlen's posters, particularly Steinlen's cat posters, command a high price at auction.