It takes a lot of detective work to discover the true identity of the illustrator who always signed his work ‘Polvexio’ or ‘Pol Vexio’, and the investigation is not helped by his only producing one erotic portfolio, these 1947 illustrations for Mémoires d’une chanteuse. Most of his work was for children’s books and posters, in a typically art deco style which was so popular in the 1920s and 30s.

The real Paul Vexiau grew up in the western French town of Luçon, the oldest of a large family, and moved to Paris in the twenties, taking up residence in the traditional art quarter of Montmartre. Self-taught, he was able to earn a living by illustrating books for young readers, including an edition of Perrault’s fairy stories, and a 1940 picture book by Pierre Anceleu (1902–95) about a young girl called Fandebiche, who has the ability to converse with animals. Interestingly, Fandebiche is pictured as modestly naked throughout the book.

Vexiau, again using the Polvexio pseudonym, also produced a number of posters, mostly for sporting events.

Example illustration