The son of a barker, Robert Tatin’s youth in Laval is spent close to the world of the fairground. At the age of sixteen he settles in Paris where he works as a house painter and takes classes in drawing and sculpture. In 1924, he returns to Laval, establishing a flourishing building firm. After WWII, he decides to devote himself exclusively to his artistic activities. From 1962, in his native region, he embarks on his most important work: a unique environment mixing sculpture and architecture, known as La Frénouse.
Dubuffet probably met Tatin thanks to the surrealist poet Benjamin Péret. Tatin gave Dubuffet several of his ceramic works, drawings and paintings, but Bretonne à l’oiseau sur l’épaule is the only one that was ever included in the collection of the Compagnie de l’Art Brut, since Tatin later demanded to be given back all his other works.