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Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

1859 Lausanne – 1923 Paris

As a chronologist of Montmartre during the Belle Époque, Steinlen quickly rose to fame in his adopted city of Paris. The Swiss-born painter, draughtsman and printmaker arrived in the city in 1878 and became a naturalised Frenchman in 1901. He moved in the circle around Frédéric Willette, was a regular visitor to the cabaret Le Chat noir run by Rodolphe Salis at the foot of the Butte Montmartre and was on friendly terms with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Steinlen was a talented poster artist and a caustic social critic who pilloried social evils and the double moral standards of the bourgeoisie in his illustrations for satirical magazines such as Gil Blas Illustré, Assiette au Beurre and Rire. His scenes from the working class milieu and the demi-monde in Paris show proletarians, vagrants, petty criminals and prostitutes bent by the burden of their hopeless existence.