L’enfant malade (The Sick Child)

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

Swiss, 1859 - 1923

L’enfant malade (The Sick Child)


Soft-ground etching
10 1/2 x 9 1/4 in. (26.7 x 23.5 cm)
Framed: 22 5/8 x 20 1/8 x 1 1/8 in. (57.5 x 51.1 x 2.9 cm)

Steinlen was a well-known French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker. He created posters for social causes and advertisement, and illustrated magazines and newspapers, as well as novels by Émile Zola. In 1881, Steinlen settled in the Montmartre district of Paris, where he became a regular at the cabaret Le Chat Noir. This association led to commissions for poster art and sheet music illustrations for cabaret owner and entertainer Aristide Bruant (his portrait by Toulouse-Lautrec is on view in this gallery). During the 1890s, Steinlen increasingly focused on the poor. Using his wife and child as models provided his works an atmosphere of intimacy and empathy, which further emphasized his concern for humanitarian issues. This etching depicts a desperate mother cradling her sick child—the woman’s top clothing is removed, perhaps suggesting an attempt to breastfeed her ailing infant. Stieglitz probably exhibited Steinlen’s prints in 1910 along with works by Cézanne, Renoir, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Rousseau.