Friday, February 24, 2012

Steinlen's Cats

Most of my readers are likely already familiar with the Art Nouveau poster art 
of Théophile Alexandre Steinlen. In particular, the above ad for the Cabaret 
Le Chat Noir has become one of the most ubiquitous icons of the Belle Époque.


Together with his daughter Colette, cats were Steinlen's favorite models.
He clearly observed and studied them with an inextinguishable passion, 
both at rest and in action.

Steinlen's Paris home became known as "Cat's Corner". His love of felines found expression
 not only in numerous commercial posters, but in many other artistic media including 
sculpture, painting, drawing, wall painting, editorial illustration and cartooning.

 In 1898 Steinlen published the wonderful Des ChatsImages sans paroles, a large folio of 26 plates
featuring humorous cartoon sequences of playful cats getting into all sorts of trouble.

The drawings had originally been published in the newspaper Le Chat Noir
According to this article, they possibly show the first use of the blurring of limbs 
to portray motion in visual artyears ahead of Balla and Duchamp.

I would love to be able to see the rest of the plates...
Unfortunately, surviving copies of Des Chats are valued at over $1000!
Does anyone know if a reprint is available?


  1. Oh I haven't seen some of these before thank you & I do hope Des Chats will be released again one day!

  2. You have a beautiful blog, I found a link here via Pinterest. Are you happy for images to be pinned? Best wishes.

  3. I have this book ( a reprint of course and in smaller version); it's from 1980 or thereabouts and was reprinted by a dutch publisher.
    If you want more details i will have to dig up the book..
    Love your blog btw!

  4. Thanks for all your comments!

    Blu, feel free to pin, as long as you include the author and source.

    bklopst, if you ever get a chance to scan some of the pages, please let me know.

    1. Laura, last week I purchased an original copy of "Des Chats"; it needs some
      restorations but it's complete. Let me know if you would like to have the scans of all the 26 pages.
      Congratulations for your beautiful blog!

  5. Do you know what font/typeface Steinlen used on the Clinique Chekon poster or was that all hand lettered? If you could let me know at I would appreciate it.



    1. Dick, to my knowledge all his text was hand-lettered. I've not only studied his feline art but as a graphic designer I've studied his design style as well!

  6. I have a Dover version of the book, and I treasure it. Steinlen was one of my main influences.



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