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Artist: T. A. Steinlen Swiss (1859-1923)
Plate: CN
Title: Chat Noir/Ce Soir
Description: Condition A. Excellent condition
Original colour stone lithograph
Printed by Charles Verneau, Paris, 1896.
Backed on linen

See our Terms of Sale
Poster Size: 24 in x 15 3/4 in
  61 cm x 39 cm
Price: Sold

Auction highlights:
Sold for $ 14,375 US
Swann Auctions, N.Y. December 2004.
Sold for $ 21,850 US
Poster Auctions International, N.Y. May 2008.
old for $ 20,244 US
Christies, London November 2012.

The historic "Black Cat" cabaret in the heart of Paris's Montemartre, is represented in one of Steinlen's most memorable images. Hardly a stranger to feline images, Steinlen's love of cat's comes through in this striking poster.

"Despite the delicate red halo behind him, this disreputable cat of Steinlen's personifies vagabondage; he's a ragamuffin, a Paris street urchin up to no good, and as such he represents the deliciously low-class atmosphere of the Chat Noir cabaret with deadly accuracy. No wonder that this memorable image was used in a dozen ways over a number of years by the management; they would have been fools not to give it every circulation possible. This is probably the rarest of all versions of the Chat Noir, with "Ce Soir" heralding the engagement at top. This is the smaller format." (Rennert)

"That darn cat is at it again in the promotional service of the Chat Noir cabaret. The design was no doubt meant as a satirical comment on Mucha's posters, with Steinlen's well-travelled cat's long tail replacing the long tresses in Mucha's images and the halo here having the inscription "Mont-Joye-Montmartre." (Rennert, PAI-XLI 534)

"Steinlen and his wife left for Paris in 1881, and he was soon introduced to Rudolphe Salis. Salis was an extravagant Swiss showman, who was to boast that 'God made the world, Napoleon set up the Legion of Honour, and I created the Montmartre.' He was in the process of setting up a new nightclub, the Chat Noir... Salis, always willing to help a fellow Swiss, commissioned him to execute some drawings of cats to scatter through out the Chat Noir. It soon became the regular meeting place of artists, composers and writers... In 1896 he (Steinlen) produced a poster for a provincial tour by Rodolphe Salis' Chat Noir company. This showed a black sinister, hieratic cat on a red slab."(Belle Epoque 53,55)

The Chat Noir first opened its doors in 1881 on the Boulevard de Rochechouart, and moved to the Rue Victor Masse in 1895. In its new location it was a focal point for much of the world for ten years. The cabaret's extravagant and media savy owner and manager was Rudophe Salis, who wasn't exaggerating when he once declared "I invented Montmartre!" He also invented the modern cabaret, which was imitated all over the world. Steinlen, who had designed the sign above the entrance to the cabaret and actively collaborated with the Chat Noir magazine also designed this iconic poster for the club in 1896. The huge black cat, eyes wide open, and situated on the page to allow for lots of text, is a brilliant, simple, powerful image done in only a few colors. Many different text variants exist, this one bearing the text "de Rudolphe Salis," as opposed to "avec Rudolphe Salis." Traditionally at the end of the Parisian cabaret season, all the major troupes would tour the provinces (this was especially necessary for the Chat Noir performers, as Salis was notoriously a tyrannical manager and a miser!). In 1896 Salis's health was failing and he couldn't tour with his troupe, hence the typographic change to indicate that he wasn't "with" the tour. The Chat Noir shut its doors soon after Salis died in March, 1897. (Swann)

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