Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923, Swiss)
Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen was an Art Nouveau printmaker, illustrator, painter and sculptor best known for his prolific portfolio of cat depictions. Steinlen had a love of art from an early age and attended art school in his native Lausanne. In 1881, he moved to Paris. Living in Montmartre allowed him to meet the leading artists and writers of the day who often frequented the club Chat Noir. In Paris he began to illustrate various magazines and books by Guy de Maupassant and Anatole Frances.
Steinlen’s fondness for cats is documented back to his early school days when he drew them in the margins of his school books. In Paris, his home on the Rue Caulaincourt was well known by the neighborhood cats. During his first years in Paris, it is said that he drew cats and sold the sketches for food. Several books have been published of his cat illustrations, drawings and paintings. Steinlen’s cats are elegant and sophisticated, not cute and mischievous, as they were depicted by so many other 19th and early 20th century artists.