Is This the First Picture of a Young Street Artist at Work?

French painter, poster artist and print-maker, Etienne Maurice Firmin Bouisset was born to a working-class family in the town of Moissac in the Tarn-et-Garonne département in south-western France on September 2, 1859.  He specialized in painting children and did a number of illustrated books such as La Petite Ménagère (The Little Housekeeper) in 1890. Firmin Bouisset died in Paris on 19 March, 1925.

At a time when posters were a popular form of advertising, Bouisset created posters with enduring images for a number of different French food companies such as Maggi and Lefèvre-Utile (where he used their LU initials as an ad logo as part of a 1897 poster image for a line of butter biscuits featuring “The Little Schoolboy” – of which a variation is still used by today.

  • However, Firmin Bouisset is more popularly known for his posters for the French chocolate manufacturer, Menier (see above).
  • Contracted by the company in 1892, Bouisset used his daughter Yvonne as a model to create what became an iconic image of a little girl using a piece of chocolate to write the company’s name.
  • The drawing was featured on many of the Menier’s advertisements and on its packaged products as well as on promotional items such as creamers, bowls, sugar dishes, plates, canister sets, ashtrays, thermometers, key chains, and even children’s exercise books.

Today, many of his posters are very popular with collectors and because they are no longer copyright protected, they are being duplicated and sold on the Internet and in retail outlets in many countries.

Yvonne Bouisset, the scribbler, the graffiti artist, the street artist, the defacer, or the innocent – you be the judge.

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