The portrait of Anatole-François Thibault, known as Anatole France (1844-1924)

Of the meeting between the two artists we know little, but it is likely that they met before their first joint project under the aegis of the art publisher Edouard Pelletan, in 1901. At the time, the writer was enjoying increasing fame (elected to the Académie Française in 1896, he would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921), which he used to denounce social injustice. L’Affaire Crainquebille, written by Anatole France, was illustrated by Steinlen (1901) and marks the birth of the unfailing friendship which would unite them from that point on. Steinlen portrayed Anatole France several times and in this portrait, where only the writer’s face is shown, we see an old man with his eyes screwed up by the half-smile being sketched - a sign of the close relationship enjoyed by the two men.