Emile Cohl, considered by some the inventor of animation, was born in Paris in the year 1857. Coming from a background of satiric illustration, cartoons, and journalism, Cohl produced some 300 films between 1907 and 1923.

The work that cements Cohl in the history of animation were his farcical and surrealist short-films. His first, and as a result, most widely known was Fantasmagorie. This two minute film features white figures animated against a black background. The figures warp and evolve into different drawings as one image deforms into another. Displayed for the first time at the Théâtre de Gymnase in Paris on August 17, 1908, it is considered the first animated cartoon (although some will argue 1907's Humorous Phases of Funny Faces is the first example, Cohl's film uses exclusively frame by frame drawings, while James Stuart Blackton's does not). Cohl would continue to experiment with frame by frame drawings and would further combine them with live cinematography and stop-motion cut-out and object animation. IMDB has an extensive list of his known films.

While his impact on film animation is now widely acknowledged Cohl died in relative obscurity at age 80 in a hospital in Villejuif on January 20, 1938. (Incidentally Walt Disney's mother would die later that same year.)

http://www.lips.org/bio_Cohl.asp with images, and English translation