Theophile Alexandre Steinlen Biography

Theophile Alexandre Steinlen




Painter, sculptor, printmaker, and illustrator Theophile Alexandre Steinlen was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1859. Following studies at the University of Lausanne he took a design internship at a textile mill in Mulhouse, France. Soon thereafter, on the advice of painter Francois Bocion, he relocated with his wife Emilie to Monmartre, Paris, where he quickly became ensconced in the burgeoning Belle Epoque artists' scene. 

Beginning in the early 1890s he exhibited at the Salon des Independants and gained a favorable reputation as a painter, focusing on rural landscapes, nudes, and still lifes, as well as the daily lives of Monmartre's working class and poorer residents. In addition to his work in oil painting and fine prints, Steinlen was a popular graphic artist and poster designer, creating some of the most recognized Art Nouveau poster ads of the times, among them posters for Le Chat Noir and Compagnie Francaise des Chocolate. A prolific illustrator, he also contributed hundreds of works to the publications Le Rire, Gil Blas, L'Assiette as Beurre, and Les Humouristes, which he co-founded. During World War I, Steinlen created a series of works that dealt with the lives of soldiers, creating darker, moodier lithographic pieces that aimed to illustrate the mood of Paris and Europe as the war played out.

Steinlen died in Paris in 1923. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.