Francisque Poulbot Biography

Francisque Poulbot




Illustrator, painter, toy designer, and early filmmaker Francisque Poulbot was born in Saint-Denis, France on February 6, 1879. He was born into a teaching family – both of his parents were lecturers. The oldest of seven children, Francisque was a gifted draughtsman but shied away from the École des Beaux-Arts. It is known that he took lessons in engraving from Eugene Delatre, but the timeline of these lessons is unknown. Beginning around 1900 be began receiving commissions for drawings and cartoons by various publications and the press, including Le Pele-Mele.

He moved to Montmartre and continued to work as an illustrator for books and ad agencies, though now he had expanded his creative pursuits to include toy design. In 1913 he created the dolls Nenette and Rintintin to compete with the popular German toys flooding the French market; Nenette was named after the pet name he gave to his future wife, Leona Ondernard (who he married in February 1914), and Rintintin was his own nickname.

In August of 2014 he was called up to serve in the 2nd Army Corps' 11th Land Regiment as the First World War began. However, in February of 1915 he was wounded and eventually sent back to Paris after it was discovered that he had a condition effecting his bones. For the remainder of the war he continued to offer his services to war effort by drawing and publishing patriotic cartoons for Le Journal as well as posters and postcards. Of particular importance to Poulbot was the sympathetic nature of children, and he frequently used the image of the child to spark compassion in the reader. He expanded his creative pursuits to include filmmaking, and he directed his first shorts, "Montmartre's Kids" and "The Kiddies of the Ruins", in 1916 and 1918, respectively. These films used humorous storylines to illustrate the nature of children during wartime.

From 1920–1921, being very attached to the Montmartre life, Poulbot became involved in the creation of the République de Montmartre. An association aimed at helping care for children of poor families and orphans, founded
 with his friends Adolphe Willette, Jean-Louis Forain and Maurice Neumont. Their efforts included a free health clinic called "Les P'tit Poulbots". His depiction of these children, often drawn in a heroic fashion, led to the French Government bestowing upon him the Legion of Honor, and the term "poulbot" would be coined to refer to illustrations of Parisian "titis": street children. A perfect example is an illustration of Gavroche, the famous character from the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Poulbot would later be put under house arrest during German occupation of France in World War II for these images.

Francisque Poulbot  died in Paris on 16 September, 1946 and was buried in Montmartre Cemetery.