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Felix Lorioux

Felix Lorioux was born in Angers, France, in 1872 and would go on to be regarded as among the best of French illustrators. However, he is less well known elsewhere, a fact that should be overcome as his work deserves to be regarded with the very best of his genre and era.

Lorioux was always destined for a career in the art world, and started out illustrating in the fashion world. In his early career he worked for Andre Citroen - who was making his mark as a pioneer in the manufacture of automobiles - but it was a meeting with influential Draeger brothers - themselves pioneer sin the world of advertising and publicity - who recognised the possibilities in Lorioux's unique style that would lead to him becoming a famous name.

Lorioux worked in a style that was - like many of his peers - heavily and noticeably influenced by the art of the day, that of the Art Nouveau movement in which France was a leading player, and this led to him being invited to work on illustrating major printed works of the day. With a style and substance that exuded fantasy, it would be no surprise when he became much requested as an illustrator of children' books and fairy tales which lent themselves very much to his manner and interpretation.

Relying on the use of caricature and bright, cheerful and immediately apparent colour, Lorioux forged a style that was - and remains - very much his own, and became very famous for his illustrations of the works of Charles Perrault, a 17th century collector of folk stories who has been credited by many as being among the inventor of the fairy tale thanks to his efforts at putting these folk tales down on paper.

Particularly of interest are Perrault's readings of the now standard fairy tales Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, both of which were adapted by him into literary form, and both of which are among the most fantastical and beautiful of illustrations by Lorioux among the later editions.

Even one hundred years later the Perrault written and Lorioux drawn renderings of these two legends are copied and repeated in fine detail, to the extent that the Disney film versions of the stories are widely consider to be moving adaptations of Lorioux interpretations.

Other Perrault tales illustrated by Lorioux include such standards as Tom Thumb and Puss in Boots, and it is estimated that Lorioux illustrated over one hundred volumes of children's literature alone during his career.

Further proof of the Disney connection came when Walt Disney himself commissioned Lorioux to render a French edition of Silly Symphonies, but the project fell flat when Disney decreed the drawings too stylized for the desired audience.

Nevertheless, Lorioux went from strength to strength in illustration, and continued to work in the world of children's literature for the remainder of his career.

Other notable uses of Lorioux's fabulous and inventive works can be found on a series of now very collectable menus that were published in France around the prime of his career, and it remains to be said that Felix Lorioux, as the creator of many fairy tale images that we take for granted today, ranks among the very best of illustrators that the world has ever seen.

Felix Lorioux died in 1964 after a long and prolific career, leaving behind him a legacy that continues to shape our interpretation of folk stories and fairytales to this day.