Chat Noir lithograph set for $18,000 auction

An original Chat Noir lithograph is up for auction at Freeman's on September 27 with an estimate of $12,000-18,000.

Le Chat Noir was a 19th century cabaret that opened in 1891 in the bohemian Montmarte district of Paris. From the beginning it attracted a loyal clientele of artists and writers who nicknamed themselves "Les Hydropathes" (those who are afraid of water). The club closed in 1897.

Chat Noir Freeman's
The iconic image was created by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen

The image, by Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, titled Ce soir la tres illustre Comagnie du Chat Noir, has been reprinted on everything from mugs to T-shirts, and is one of the defining images of the art nouveau movement.

Steinlen was a French painter and printmaker who was introduced to the artistic crowd at Le Chat Noir by painter Adolphe Willette - a friendship that led to a number of advertising commissions, including the iconic image for which he is best known. A painter of landscapes and nudes, Steinlen spent most of his life in Montmarte and died in Paris in 1923.

Today his work can be found in museums around the world including the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  

A similar lithograph of the Chat Noir image sold at Christie's London in 2012, surpassing its £5,000-7,000 ($8,040-11,256) estimate to make £15,000 ($24,165) - an increase of 200%.

The record price paid for a work by Steinlen is $132,980, achieved for his Les Blanchisseuses painting at Christie's in Paris in 2008.

Other items at the auction include a number of vintage playing cards and various lithographs.

We have this postcard of The Absinthe Drinker, signed by Pablo Picasso - an enthusiastic patron of Le Chat Noir.

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