Henri Filaquier is the seventh child of a farming family. His primary school teacher remarks on his “abnormal” behavior. Later, probably on the death of his parents, he is admitted to a home in Lavaur. He starts drawing in 1944 on the invitation of Gaston Puel, a French poet close to the Surrealists who he has gotten to know during his wanderings through the city. In black lead and coloring pencil, his works show themes inspired by everyday life — a mill, church candles, animals — the meaning of each subject being inscribed directly on the drawing.
Gaston Puel was the one who drew Dubuffet’s attention to the work of Henri Filaquier. In his letters, he described him as follows: “swathed in coutil, wearing a kepi, glittering with medals ( … ), he would leave the almshouse at 8 in the morning. (…) Should someone appear on the threshold, he would shout out their name and jovially greet them, never failing to announce his upcoming marriage, the dowry of his bride-to-be and the materials that would go into his wedding bed. He knew the names of all six thousand inhabitants of his city.” His work was given to Dubuffet by Gaston Puel in 1948.