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Tournee du Chat Noir

Artist: Theophile Alexandre Steinlen
Created: 1896
Dimensions (cm): 95.9 x 135.9
Format: Color lithograph
Location: Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Steinlen lived from 1859 to 1923. He was one of the first artists to paint in the Art Nouveau style. This is a decorative art style characterized by intricately detailed patterns of curvy lines. This style remained popular up until World War 1. After this it was replaced by what is known now as Art Deco. Steinlen was a prominent illustrator of publications and posters. He specialized in cats. One of his most famous and popular posters is the Chat Noir. There are many versions of this poster and the Tournee du Chat Noir is one of the most famous. The sly feline stares out at us. His perky tail curls up almost impertinently. You can almost see it waving back and forth.

The black cat has of course many connotations. We think of it as bad luck. We think of this cat as belonging to witches and Halloween and the supernatural. A black cat, like this one, unlike other colored cats gives one the impression that he has special powers, that he is very intelligent. This cat seems almost to be smirking at us. He certainly gives off the distinct impression that he knows far more than we do. You feel almost like he could talk to us and what a tale he would have to tell!

Typical of the style one can see the many delicate and intricate patterns in this painting. Steinlen has magnificently captured the independent and arrogant aura of a cat in this lovely painting.


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