Rare Example of Limited Edition Serio-Comic Map Depicting Outset of World War II
"L'Europe en Sept 1939",
Subject: Europe, World War II
Period: 1939 (published)
Color: Black & White
32.7 x 22.5 inches
83.1 x 57.2 cm
This very rare serio-comic map was created by André Vlaanderen at the outset of World War II. Each country is represented by human or animal figures that are numbered and identified in a key at bottom right. Germany is depicted as a giant and brutal Nazi Wehrmacht soldier, having just murdered the ladies of Austria and Czechoslovakia, and stretching his arms wide wielding knives in each hand. The knife in his left hand is poised to stab the lady of Poland, while the knife in his right hand threatens France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Just below his right arm is the head of a murdered Jew, while above is a British plane dropping propaganda leaflets. Russia, the other key aggressor, carries a bloody sickle in one hand and a hammer in the other and is accompanied by a giant, ferocious bear. Russia's foot is raised to trample Poland from the east while the bear swipes its paw at Romania. France is depicted as Marianne wearing a Phrygian cap and commanding her troops. Great Britain is represented as Dame Albion with her naval fleet on leashes and her purse (Ireland) overflowing with ships. For the most part, the aggressors of World War II and the cautious bystanders are represented by male figures, with the early victims and those actively protecting their land represented as females. The dramatic title cartouche features the skeleton of Death, wearing a German helmet and brandishing a bloody scythe and a torch, and a banner with a quote from Horace: "Ille Terrarum Mihi Angulus Ridet" (that corner of the earth smiles at me).
This satirical map perfectly symbolizes the situation towards the end of 1939, with Germany annexing Austria in March 1938 and Czechoslovakia in 1938-39, and invading Poland in September 1939 (with Russia invading Poland shortly thereafter). The author, Cornelis André Vlaanderen (1881-1955), was a Dutch artist from Amsterdam who was best known for his work in advertising. He was orphaned at an early age and received his art, drawing and lithography education at Teekenschool voor Kunstambachten and Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten, both in Amsterdam. He settled in Belgium in 1929, where he remained until his death. Much of his work was for the Dutch bicycle company, Gazelle, for which he designed their logo that is still in use today.
This map was published in a series of only 150 numbered examples that were hand colored and signed by the artist (as explained in the note at the bottom left of the sheet), however this is an unprecedented uncolored, unsigned, and un-numbered example. This is the only such example we have seen on the market. This may have been a pre-publication issue or state, or it may simply have been distributed without being numbered and signed by Vlaanderen. Published by Leon Burghgraeve in Bruges.
A sharp example printed on grayish paper with some faint stains mostly confined to the blank margins and a bit of light creasing along the edges of the sheet.