THÉOPHILE-ALEXANDRE STEINLEN (1859-1923) MOTHU ET DORIA. 1893. 50 x 37 inches. Pajol & Cie. Paris. Condition B+: expert extensive overpainting in margins; overpainting and restoration in image. Born in Switzerland, Steinlen moved to Paris in 1882 and settled in Montmartre where he quickly joined the Chat Noir circle, providing illustrations for many magazines. Anatole France called him "the master of the street" and deemed his work "epic," as his illustrations, born from his personal Socialistic and humanistic sympathies, found inspiration in the everyday life and miseries of Paris' proletarian communities. He was an excellent draughtsman, and when he teamed up with Charles Verneau, he found a printer and a partner with whom he would produce some of the best posters ever printed. By 1893, Steinlen had "produced [this] his first important poster . . . a successful experiment in clarity of composition and simplicity of form. Mothu and Doria were performers who often sang the repertoire of Albert Pajol, a lyricist and publisher who commissioned the poster and four sheet music covers from Steinlen." (Steinlen p. 115). Their "scénes impressionnistes" were something akin to impersonations or tableaux. Amongst the roles they adopted and the characters they portrayed was this duo of shabby drifter and aristocrat. Under Steinlen's masterful guidance, this scene, ostensibly of one man lighting his cigarette from another's, becomes infused with mystery, suspense and perhaps even menace. The exquisite rendering of the two men, the crachis [splatter] effect to help render the darkness of the night, the glowing lamp posts, all contribute to making this one of Steinlen's lesser know masterpieces.This is the very rare black proof. Steinlen 88, Bargiel 12 (var), Crauzat 490, DFP-II 780 (var), Maitres 46 (var).