Sold for $10,200 US Poster Auctions International, N.Y. May 2012
Overshadowed somewhat by his extremely popular designs with cats, this poster demonstrates the true genius of Steinlen's ability to observe and then communicate with graphic excellence. With the text almost secondary, he is able to convey, with great draftsmanship, a slice of reality on a dark street of Paris in it's heyday, that one can almost feel. It is safe to say that this more serious side of Steinlen's poster works, epitomised by this poster, is rivalled only by Toulouse-Lautrec.
Study for "Mothu et Doria' by Steinlen 1893
"The theatre goer enjoys the thrill and gets good value for his money, of seeing reproduced on the stage, the strange and rather sinister atmosphere of the underworld and demimonde. Steinlen's poster for the two singers Mothu and Doria also gives a delicate hint of the social tension of the period. There is still, of course, no social unrest. There appears to be no top or bottom to society but only a coexistence of opposites. But there is nevertheless a slight difference between belonging to the 'Paris that amuses itself' and the 'Paris that works.' Behind the peremptory 'A light, if you please, sir,' there is the haunting memory of the Weavers' Rebellion in 1844, which was brutally suppressed" (Paris 1900, p.38)
"There is no consensus as to what Steinlen's highly-regarded "Mothu et Doria" is actually trying to portray. A singing duo in Aristide Bruant's social-realist mode? A stage drama? Is it a moment of socioeconomic conflict or comity? All we really know is this: a gentleman, likely returning from the Opera, proffers a cigar so that a raffish gentleman with sunken cheeks can light his own cigarette, in the foggy gaslight of a Parisian night. Its ambiguity alone defines it as a superb work of art." (Rennert)
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