"Chat noir".Sign of a cabaret.

Adolphe Willette (1857-1926)

    • Sign from The Black Cat cabaret, formerly rue de Rochechouart then rue Laval (now rue Victor-Massé), 9th arr.
      Painted sheet metal
      Donated by the Society of Friends of the Carnavalet Museum in 2005

An emblem of life in Montmartre, this sign designed by Adolphe Willette shows a black cat on a crescent moon. In the late 19th century, the legendary Chat Noir cabaret was the bastion of artists and the symbol of bohemian life.

Founded in 1881 by Rodolphe Salis, the cabaret opened its doors at 84 Boulevard de Rochechouart, at the foot of Butte Montmartre, and moved in 1885 to 12 Rue de Laval (now Rue Victor-Massé). The closing of the cabaret and the death of Salis in 1897 marked the end of an artistic adventure.

In 1902, Willette’s sign became famous once again. For the contest on artistic signs that had been organized by the painter Édouard Detaille, it was shown at city hall. The painter obtained first prize for his signs cut out of sheet metal: Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat), L’Âne Rouge (The Red Donkey) and Le Noir et le Blanc (Black and White). One hundred years later, the Chat Noir sign, which had been acquired by the Carnavalet Museum, became a showpiece of the museum’s sign collection.