Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

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Theophile Alexander Steinlen – An Outstanding Illustartor And Painter


Theophile Alexander Steinlen was born in november 19, 1859 in Lausanne. He was an illustrator, designer, artist, and french cartoonist. He was a self-taught artist. His love for cats was seen as a symbol in every poetry. The cats became as a trademark because it is present in many of his posters. 

Early life

He was encouraged to become a pastor; that’s why his parents made him join the Académie de Lausanne, where he studied literature and philosophy. In 1879, he dropped out of school and was hired as a designer at a textile mill in Mulhouse, Eastern France. In 1882, he developed his skills as a painter after moving to the center of the art community. Between 1883- 1920, he shuffled between commercial poster art. He made more serious contributions that gave a voice to social concerns by creating illustrations for publications like Mirliton, Assiette au Beurre, and Gil Glas. 

 ‘Le locataire’

 ‘Le locataire’ (1913), an example of his controversial work, shows the poverty and helplessness of the working classes in turn-of-the-century Paris.

Steinlen made theatrical and cabaret posters that featured local performers, like French singer Yvette Guilbert who preferred his portrayal to the version done by Toulouse-Lautrec. To add to his credit, the artist-designed sheet music covers, as well as book illustrations including Guy de Maupassant’s ‘Le Vagabond’ and Anatole France’s ‘L’affaire Crainquebille.’  He drew only a few paintings during his entire life, and the rest of the time, he was busy with the political press. He was a socialist after he moved to Montmartre. He soon found a common language with the left-wing community of France and mostly participated in the satirical magazine Le Riremarxist Le Chambard Socialisteanarchist newspaper La Feuille and so on, often for free. 

Steinlen died in 1923 in Paris and was buried in the Saint-Vincent Cemetery. Today his works can be found in many museums around the world.