Francisque Poulbot

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. Francisque, who was the oldest of seven children was a gifted draughtsman, but shied away from the École des Beaux-Arts. Following 1900 his drawings and cartoons began to be published in the press.

He moved to Montmartre, and in February 1914 married Léona Ondernard, before leaving for the Front as France began to enter the war; he was however sent back the following year. During the First World War, he drew patriotic posters and postcards. In 1920–1921, being very attached to the Montmartre life, Poulbot became involved in creating the République de Montmartre, with his friends Adolphe Willette, Jean-Louis Forain and Maurice Neumont. In 1923 he opened a dispensary on the Rue Lepic to help the needy children of Montmartre. He depicted the street urchins of Paris, often in heroic terms. The French coined a word, “poulbot” that refers to illustrations representing Parisian “titis”: street children. A perfect example is an illustration of Gavroche, the famous character from the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Decades later he was put under house arrest under the German occupation of France during World War II for these images.

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

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