The Chat noir: the black cat of Paris

The Chat noir by Rodolphe Salis

The Chat noir was a famous place opened by the Parisian entrepreneur Rodolphe Salis, with the aim of creating a refined, elegant venue of art and wine.

Inaugurated in November 1881 at the foot of the Montmartre hill, the venue was a cabaret, a shadow theater and a meeting place for painters and writers.

Although initially the place did not enjoy great fame and the environment was certainly not refined and elegant, only poets, painters, artists in general were allowed inside, and many people were left at the door.

Thanks to Salis’ friendship with the writer Émile Goudeau, the literary circle Les Hydropathes soon began to meet at the Chat noir, and this led to a radical change in the audience that frequented the Montmartre district and expanded the fame of the Chat noir.

Rodolphe Salis

The circle of artists at the Chat noir

The Chat noir, an inspiring model for many subsequent ones, was a meeting place for ideas and projects, for artists and aristocrats who made the history and fame of the most revolutionary cabaret in the capital, between one glass of wine and the next. On this stage artists such as Erik Satie and Claude Debussy performed.

At the Chat noir cabaret you could meet the painter Adolphe Willette, the chanssonniers Aristide Bruant and Jules Jouy, the humorist Alphonse Allais and the poets Charles Cros, Albert Samain, Paul Verlaine, Jean Richepin and many others.

The Chat noir so became one of the main meeting places of Paris and the symbol of art and Bohèmeat the end of the nineteenth century.

The Chat noir in 1929

Lo Chat noir: the most famous black cat in art

Puzzle di Legno FORMAcultura Steinlen Chat Noir

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Tournée du Chat Noir, 1896

It is said that the name given to the place, Chat noir, is due to the numerous cats that roamed the Montmartre district, strays, wanderers, free like the artists who frequented Salis’ place.
One in particular, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, nicknamed “le roi des chats”, the king of cats, always present at the evenings of Chat noir, frescoes and decorates the room with paintings dedicated to popular scenes and funny felines. Among these, in addition to a concert of cats on the roofs of Montmartre, there was above all the famous sign with the black cat posted on the door of the cabaret.

Taking up the simplified style and large splashes of colors of Toulouse Lautrec, known in Parisian cafes, he creates an extraordinary image, which sums up the whole spirit of the place.
On a golden background, the dark silhouette of a cat dominates, with bristly hair and large yellow eyes. Behind his head a halo transforms him almost into a sacred animal. Enigmatic and mocking, the black cat plunges its claws into the red of the base, on which the elegantly curled tail stands out.
The colors are reduced to black, red and yellow, perhaps to limit printing costs, but certainly chosen because they are strong, bold and anarchic.

From the Chat noir poster to the wooden puzzle

All the fascinating history of Chat noir, the symbols of Paris, the bohemian life of artists and cabaret goers and the cats that we can imagine walking around the streets of Montmartre come to life in our WoodArt Puzzle dedicated to the Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen’s poster.

The special pieces portray the monuments of Paris, among which the Eiffel Tower and the Basilica of Montmartre stand out. Sly cats and jumping kittens are hidden among the tiles.

And among all this, if you look closely, you will also find glasses and champagne to toast when the puzzle will be ready to frame.

308 pieces with the strangest and most original shapes that will give you a hard time composing an image that is an art icon.

Like all the puzzles in our collection, the Chat noir is also made of poplar wood and laser cut.

Available in our shop. Don’t miss it!

Tournée du Chat Noir, wooden jigsaw puzzle