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Wednesday 30 November 2022

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen’s lithograph, “Les Soliloques du Pauvre”

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923)

Les Soliloques du Pauvre” (The Soliloquies of the Poor), 1895, proof impression of the cover to Jehan Rictus’ (aka Gabriel Randon) (1867–1933) poems, “Les Soliloques du Pauvre”, published by the Société du "Mercure de France" in Paris in 1897 (see

I understand that the advancing figure on the right of the composition is the poet, Jenan Rictus—based on the Bibliothèque nationale’s advice that Rictus (transl.) “was a great friend of Steinlen who took inspiration from his silhouette to illustrate the most famous of his works: ‘The Soliloques of the Poor’” (see cat. no. 13:

Éditions Gallimard offers the following insightful account of Jehan Rictus and this publication: (transl.) “Gabriel Randon, known as Jehan-Rictus … had a difficult and conflicted childhood, he left school around fourteen, lived in various small jobs and began to frequent the milieu of artists and anarchists in Montmartre. Leading a precarious life, homeless for a while, at twenty-two he frequented the world of tramps and vagabonds, a crucial experience that would inspire him with the best of his literary work. He was twenty-eight when he undertook to give voice to the little people of the streets and the declassed in poems entirely written in his language, Parisian slang. It will be The Soliloquies of the Poor which he made known by saying them himself in the Montmartre cabarets, notably at the Chat Noir. Unclassifiable book, without equivalent in the history of poetry, this collection which knows an immediate success because of its lyrical force, its oratorical power and its prosodic control is undoubtedly, after Villon and before Prévert or Queneau, one of rare examples of a poetry that uses popular language and in a certain way prefigures contemporary rap” (

Transfer lithograph printed in black on cream wove paper (see

Size: (sheet) 28 x 38 cm; (image borderline) 20 x 32.3 cm.

Lettered in plate: “Jehan Rictus/ Les Soliloques/ DuPauvre/ Dessins De/ Steinlen”.

Crauzat 579 (Ernest de Crauzat 1913, “L'oeuvre gravé et lithographié de Steinlen”, Paris Société de propagation des livres d'art, p. 156, cat. no. 579 [see]).

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression in a near pristine condition with no tears, holes, abrasions, stains or foxing.

I am selling this proof impression of Steinlen’s famous lithograph designed for the cover of his friend’s book of poems, for the total cost of AU$242 (currently US$164.68/EUR157.77/GBP136.20 at the time of this listing) including Express Mail (EMS) postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this graphically strong original lithograph capturing a bleak view of Parisian life in Montmartre towards the end of the nineteenth century, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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