The Poulbot – this is the emblematic kid of Montmartre and a big star of the district. Often represented with a Newsboy cap on his head, paneled clothes and huge eyes in the middle of his face, this character was created by the artist Francisque Poulbot .
Having lived on the hill for a long time, Poulbot was born in Saint-Denis in 1879 was very attached to his life in Montmartre. Which is why he has spent a good part of his life representing the children in his neighborhood. In fact, these children are the inspiration for the character Gavroche in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
Alongside his passion as a designer, Poulbot also invested heavily in the life of the neighborhood. He notably co-founded the Republic of Montmartre in 1920. Some called these children “street urchins” – resourceful and often jokers, the kids that Poulbot depicted in his drawings lived in a Montmartre which looked like nothing we know today.
At the start of the 20th century, the district was still predominantly poor and many “street kids” lived there in precarious conditions. It is moreover because the artist came to their aid that his name stuck to these characters. In 1920, Francisque Poulbot opened a dispensary on Rue Lepic, dedicated to needy children of Montmartre. And the name? Les P’tits Poulbots!
He organized a large number of charity galas and Christmas parties there to bring them relief and joy. Poulbot was a Knight of the Legion of Honor under the Ministry of Fine Arts. And while under German occupation during World War II, Poulbot was placed under house arrest for signing posters and patriotic postcards.
In the next series, we will go to visit another project that Poulbot was involved in, a vineyard hidden in the middle of Paris.
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