Pol Rab – Creator of Ric and Rac

Paul Abraham, born in Paris, 25-08-1898 and tragically died in February 1933 at the age of just 35. He used the pseudonym Pol Rab. 

An original signed photograph of Pol Rab holding soft toys of Ric and Rac (1930).

French artist and designer, caricaturist and painter working during the art deco period. Although Pol Rab is best remembered for his canine cartoon characters which he named Ric and Rac and who were the central characters in his albums, Pas Pour Jeunes Filles, he also designed posters for the theatre and contributed to magazines and other editorial works.

His cartoon series Ric and Rac also featured in the Le Rise French newspaper during the 1920’s, he also contributed to Grand Hebdomadaire Pour Tous – The Grand Weekly for All – a satirical magazine in Paris, founded in 1929 which continued to its last issue in 1944.

Interestingly, and sadly, it is possible that the magazine and some of Pol’s colleagues at the paper were later the subject of interest to the Gestapo in 1944 – and possibly arrested for either something drawn in the magazine or maybe in connection with the Resistance.

Also between 1930 and 1934 the magazine published a series of seven short stories and a chapter of the autobiography written by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Nenufar cologne bottle

Another cartoon series appearing in 1931 was Nenufar, which was illustrated by Pol as were many magazines, including The Theatre Magazine and Vogue.

The English translation of Nenufar is apparently Water Lily (the sacred scent of Cleopatra), which is possibly why the bottle illustrated is a scent bottle. Now deemed racially insensitive, these original Nenufar items are extremely rare.

There was a big following for Ric and Rac items and many commercial items were produced. These included bookends, powder bowls, table lamps, clocks, picture frames, a shoe polish tin, and other tin ware, brooches, bangles, soft toys, car mascots, pictures and posters – showing the naughty terrier dogs.

Ric and Rac books – named Pas Pour Jeunes Filles, which were the musings and philosophies of the canine duo, illustrated by Pol, were albums aimed mainly at adults as some of the dog’s comments were very racy – especially for the 1920’s. Grand Hebdomadaire Pour Tous were advertising the Ric and Rac albums in the magazine at 2.50 francs each in 1942.

Below is a selection of books and pages from the books, including an original signed copy with the hand drawn Ric and Rac above Pol’s signature.

Less well known but equally important is his work in theatre costume and theatre set design which encompassed theatres in Europe, UK and the USA. He was responsible for designing and producing costumes and stage sets at most major theatres in Paris.

He illustrated some important posters of the time and worked with some of the great designers and stars of the French music hall scene, and these original posters are now highly collectible and consequently very expensive.

Pol was elected president of the Salon des Mois de 30 Ans, an artistic society for artists under the age of thirty. He founded the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans, and was also a member of the Comité de la Fédération des Artistes and artistic director of the Casino de Cabourg and of the Palm Beach, Cannes. He also received the Grand Prix des Arts Décoratifs.

There appears be so little information available regarding the life and works of Pol Rap but I personally would love to hear anything about the man and his career that is missing from this blog.

And finally – to bring a smile to your face, there is also an animal hospital in France called Ric et Rac.

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