Born in Lausanne, the painter and printmaker Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen studied at the University of Lausanne before moving to Paris in 1878. Shortly afterward, Steinlen joined the community of artists at Montmartre and came into the circle of artists who frequented the Chat Noir. It was there that he befriended Emile Zola, Jean Richepin, Aristide Bruant, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. He also began illustrating for satirical and political journals such as, “Chat Noir,” “Mirliton,” “Assiette au Beurre,” and “Gil Blas.” Within a few years, he produced over 400 lithographs for these publications. In 1911, Steinlen founded a paper along with Jean-Louis Forain and Charles Lucien Léandre, called “Les Humorists,” for which he also worked as an illustrator.
His paintings were often of rural landscapes, flowers, and nudes. His prints and commercial images usually focused on cabaret scenes or satire. He frequently incorporated animals into his works, and the popularity of his cat images made them a trademark of Steinlen’s oeuvre.