Théophile Steinlen was a Swiss-born French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker.
Born in Lausanne, Steinlen stopped taking philosophy at the university in his home town prematurely to become a textile designer in Mulhouse, France. The socially committed, kind-hearted artist hen left for Paris in 1881, as he was encouraged by the painter François Boccioni to move to the artistic community in the Montmartre Quarter. His friend Adolphe Willette introduced him to the artistic crowd at Le Chat Noir, that led to his commissions to do poster art for the cabaret owner/entertainer, Aristide Bruant along with other commercial enterprises.
His permanent home, Montmartre and its environs, was his favorite subject and he often painted scenes of some of the harsher aspects of life in the neighborhood. His daughter Colette was also featured in much of his work. In addition to paintings and drawings, he also did a few sculptures, mostly notably figures of cats, figures often seen in many of his paintings.
He also painted traditional subjects such as landscapes, flower still lives and nudes. Later work increasingly displayed social realist tendencies. Steinlen became a sought-after illustrator for legendary magazines such as Le Rire and Gil bas.