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Susan Michal

Theophile Alexandre Steinlen

Artist Biography

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Theophile Alexandre Steinlen

A major artist of the French Art Nouveau era, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen came to Paris from his native Switzerland at the age of twenty. Mainly self-taught, he quickly established himself as a leading illustrator of popular journals such as Le Rire. He also contributed a large amount of art, prints, posters and lithographs to the radical press publications, Pere Peinard, Les Temps Nouveaux and La Chambard. In order to avoid political repercussions for some of his art dealing with strong social content he often employed pseudonyms such as, 'Treelan' and 'Pierre'.

In the 1890's Steinlen's wonderful use of line and design led to some of the most famous posters of the Art Nouveau movement. These include, Tournee du Chat Noir (1896), La Rue (1896) and Lait pur Sterilise (1894). Yet the majority of his art, prints and posters continued to explore the life of the poor and humble. Known as "the Millet of the Streets", Steinlen's influence was vast. Among other artists both Toulouse-Lautrec and the young Picasso paid direct homage to his art.

In total, Steinlen created 382 original lithographs and 115 etchings. Like Toulouse-Lautrec, Steinlen contributed some original lithographs to publishers of popular songs who would use them as cover art, prints or posters for their sheet music. La Joueuse d'Orgue was a popular song with music by Doria-Ponchin and lyrics by Archille Bloch. Before the publication of the music a small number of impressions were struck with the title only and without the names of the composers. This constituted the first state. This impression of La Joueuse d'Orgue thus originates from the pre-publication, first state.

Theophile Alexandre Steinlen Art, Prints and Posters Collection