The portrait of Gustave Charpentier (1860-1956)

This gifted musician studied music in Tourcoing before entering the Conservatoire de Paris. Here, he won composition prizes in 1885-1886 before winning the Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata Didon in 1887. He spent the years 1888-1890 at the Villa Médicis where he composed most of his works, including the opera Louise in 1900 (later to be described as “naturalist”) - his best known work. The plot of this opera is, incidentally, set partly in Montmartre. Close to anarchist circles in the 1880s, founder of the Conservatoire Populaire Mimi Pinson (where women had access to free musical education), the end of his career saw him showered with academic honours: he joined the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1912, succeeding Jules Massenet. Steinlen thus depicts him when he is starting to enjoy fame - after the triumph of Louise two years previously. A common interest in describing the daily life of ordinary folk, the lower classes of Montmartre, thus seems to unite the two artists