August 2014 marked the centennial anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. As part of Central Library’s commemorative events, Anna Blaha, a post-graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, has researched the propaganda material of Dutch artist Louis Raemaekers held by the Library. Through her studies, she has created our newest Capital Collections exhibition, Louis Raemaekers and World War One: Art, Propaganda and Social Commentary.
Raemaekers was a political cartoonist who created propaganda for the Allied forces. While the Netherlands remained neutral, Raemaekers was horrified by the war and particularly by the actions of the German government and military leaders. He observed Belgian refugees’ situation after Germany’s invasion and travelled to the Western Front to witness combat. He chose to indict the Central Powers through his drawings because he believed it was the ethical choice to make although this decision endangered him and his family.
After receiving threats in the Netherlands, Raemaekers moved his family to London in 1916. Already known in the United Kingdom for his cartoons mocking and condemning the German government, he was happily received and created a prolific amount of work for various Allied institutions in the UK, France, and the United States.
The Louis Raemaekers and World War One exhibition presents a selection of the artist’s prints depicting the war and its leaders. These images combine satiric humour, sharp criticism, and gruesome detail to create a picture of the war from an Allied viewpoint.
Louis Raemaekers’ drawings are reproduced by kind permission of the Louis Raemaekers Foundation. The Louis Raemaekers Foundation have published a book of his works entitled, ‘Louis Raemaekers – with pen and pencil as a weapon’.