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1906.....PAGE SIZE 25 X 32 cms
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Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939) is the celebrated creator of La Vache qui Rit, for the cheese company Fromageries Bels. Several prototypes of the Laughing Cow may be found in his illustrations to La Fontaine completed when he was 42 years old. As a part-time illustrator, he contributed to most of the French comic papers before 1900 and also their British and German equivalents . An early employer was the publisher Pellerin for the Images D'Epinal, as may be expected from his popular comicbook approach to his projects. Four years after completing the Fontaine set, he decided to give up his day job as a municipal market inspector. The page and panel sequences of La Fontaine also show him an ideal contributor to animation which he started in 1916.
Rabier is most ingenious in devising compositional framings for his colour and monochrome illustrations. The portholes, panels and incorporation of decorative details are confidently handled, with all the enthusiasm of somebody sensing his strengths in a newly adopted medium. Above all there is a great sense of generosity with what he provides, extending the ambitions and content of the page well beyond the minimum called for. In many ways he is like that gifted amateur that delights in entering a detailed and formidable drawing into somebody's autograph book.
For up-to-date scholarship see Olivier Calon, Benjamin Rabier, Paris, Tallandier, 2004.