Belgians are you ready?

Description

This illustration shows a confrontation between a rooster (symbol of Wallonia, the southern French-speaking region of Belgium) and an eagle (symbol of Germany). The Flemish symbol (a lion) is not depicted. The drawing is by James Thiriar (1889-1965), a Belgian artist from Brussels and one of the Belgian Front painters. He was also a costume designer and decorator who before the war worked with the Belgian symbolist artist Ferdinand Khnopff, for the Théatre de la Monnaie (Dutch: Muntschouwburg).

The Belgian army had a special division for artists, Section Documentaire Artistique de L’armée en Campagne, who were assigned to paint or sketch life at the front. The division was founded to give the front painters, as they were called, better access to the action. The artists were also given canvases, paint and so on. In exchange they had to document life at the front. They could pick their subjects freely, most choosing air-raid shelters, trenches and ruins.

The headquarters of the department were in De Panne (Hotel Teirlinck), and the main artists’ centres were in Nieuwpoort and Lo. The Section Artistique organised exhibitions of work from the front in Belgium and abroad.

There is often a fine line between information and propaganda. This especially applies for war postcards such as this one and this particular card is a clear example of propaganda.

Transcript

Union of defence societies. All Belgians must [concentrate] on defending the homeland. Let’s only depend on ourselves for our defence, and let’s make the sacrifices needed to guarantee our existence as a free and independent people.

Full title:
Belgians are you ready?
Created:
1914-1918
Format:
Postcard / Illustration
Creator:
James Thiriar
Held by:
Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België (Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique)
Copyright:
© Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België (Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique)