Tag Archives: Lily Schmutzer

Bob De Moor, 15 years old, draws Vivien Leigh from ‘Gone with the Wind’ + class picture!

Yesterday you could read an article regarding a cartoon-esque drawing by Bob De Moor which was found in a notebook which belonged to the late Dutch-born Lily Schmutzer. Schmutzer also followed drawing lessons at the ‘Academie voor Schone Kunsten’ from 1940 until 1945, just like Bob De Moor.

Coincidentally, that very article revealed to Carine Weve that Bob De Moor was actually the same man as ‘Robert De Moor. And behold, the notebook revealed some more De Moor material which never saw the light of day until today that is.

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The first is a drawing, which is dated June 5th 1941, and which was marked as being made in Mortsel, a community near Antwerp, where the family De Moor lived at that time (in the Jaak Blockxstraat 83 to be precise). It depicts – and this is a good guess – Vivien Leigh from “Gone with the Wind” (1939).

The film itself only entered the Belgian cinemas in 1945, but it was by 1940 already a worldwide gossip phenomenon due to the main characters playing in the film. It was a sensational hit during the Blitz in London, opening in April 1940 and playing for four years… so it’s reasonable to think that also the Flemish gossip press was already talking about it. On top, De Moor was a Western fan – and “Gone with the Wind” did feature enough Western elements to interest him. It’s highly possible he based the drawing on a photo in one of the gossip / trend magazines that existed around that time (or he saw it on a film poster).

The then 15 year old Bob De Moor signs the drawing as ‘Robert‘.

The drawing itself, is quite unique as we only know the cartoon-esque side from Bob De Moor during the period he studied at the Antwerp academy. You still see that he is not yet correctly mastering the sketching technique, the eyes are a bit hesitant and Leigh’s jaw is not correctly drawn. However, it does show that De Moor knew already well what lines made up a drawing, and the nose for instance is perfect, plus he has already well mastered the way to show the folds/shades in a blouse.

This isn’t grand art, but it does represent a clear so far missing link between his drawings as a young child and his later drawings during his time at the academy. De Moor clearly preferred the publicity drawing lessons (1943) where he had to draw cartoon figures. The only portraits known from that time are actually more cartoon like than actual portraits. For those readers interested in details, on the left side you can see that the pencil strokes and shadows of the drawing have been partially rubbed over to the opposite page.

The next item which popped up in Lily Schmutzer‘s notebook as “Robert De Moor” is a 8x6cm ‘big’ picture of the drawing class of 1940-1941. And who do we recognise there? Yep, a 15-year old Robert De Moor (nr. 7). The list of numbers with the corrseponding names is not included though, however, other pictures from around that time clearly show that nr. 7 is indeed Robert De Moor. Lily Schmutzer is sitting on the left (nr. 14).

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She wrote the following text under the photo: “Voor ‘t eerst met de jongens samen in één klas, maakten we meteen een photo. We waren met een 60 tal. We maakten veel plezier, voerden niets uit maar ’t peil stond hoger als de hogere klassen.” (Literally translated, this reads like this: “We are sitting for the very first time together with the boys in one classroom, and immediately made a photo. We were roughly with 60 people. We had a lot of fun, didn’t do anything but the level was higher than the higher classes.”) The level refers to the quality of drawing.

These 2 documents shed a new light on the early graphic career of Bob De Moor and have never been documented before. I want to thank fellow detective Carine Weve (again!) for the nice collaboration on getting this puzzle sorted out in just a few days!

A previously unpublished cartoon drawing by Bob De Moor from 1943

A few days ago we received a mail including a scan of a drawing Bob De Moor had made on February 24, 1943. This drawing, which has never been published before, was included in a A5-sized notebook owned by Lily Schmutzer (1922 – 2000).

Here’s a detail of the drawing, further down below you can see the complete drawing.

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It’s her daughter, Carine Weve, who contacted us and one thing led to another and after a few mails back and forth we can offer you today not only a previously unpublished drawing but also the context of how the drawing ended up in the notebook of Lily Schmutzer and also a bit of her own story which explains why she kept the notebook.

It’s thanks to her and especially her daughter Carine Weve that you can now discover this early work on this website, 73 years after it was created.

But let’s first sketch a bit the historical context. Lily Schmutzer was Dutch and was born in 1922. When the 2nd World War broke out, the family Schmutzer moved to Antwerp just like many other Dutch people. Not all that surprising as the Germans had used a lot more aggression to overrun the Netherlands compared to what happened during the annexation of Belgium. For instance they had bombed Rotterdam and Middelburg despite the fact that the Dutch had already surrendered. Add to that that it soon became clear that the royal family had gotten away in secret leaving their compatriots in the hands of the Germans who would install a Zivilverwaltung (aided by the bloodthirsty NSB aka the Nationaal Socialistische Beweging) compared to the somewhat more civilised military-led regime aka Militärverwaltung we would know in Belgium.

It’s highly probable that the family Schmutzer left during this period, but precise data are not known although we know Lily Schmutzer followed lessons at the ‘Academie voor Schone Kunsten’ from 1940 until 1945. And that’s where she met Bob De Moor. 3 years younger than her he would start his first year at the Academy in 1940, aged 15. Both Bob and Lily finally ended up in the same ‘portrait class’ in 1943 where the ‘professor’ was teaching (more on this character further down).

The drawing Bob De Moor made in Lily’s notebook also has some notations by Lily Schmutzer indicating who is who on the drawing. Note that Bob De Moor was using ‘Bob’ as signature and equally was known as Bob De Moor (and not Robert De Moor) with his fellow students. For the purists, Lily wrote ‘Bob de Moor’ with ‘de’ instead of ‘De’, an error which would be made a lot in the decades to follow.

Below is the A5-sized notebook.

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And here is the actual drawing. If you look really well at the drawing, you can still see the pencil drawings under the ink:

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The handwritten indications say: Bob de Moor (zelfportret), Willy Mertens (tekenaar van Prof + Hels – unreadable – zie verder), Bob S’anter‘.

For those not speaking Dutch, ‘zelfportret’ means self portrait in English. ‘Prof’ refers to a ‘professor’ who managed the portrait classes and he seems to have been a recurrent character as the notebook of Lily Schmutzer has several annotations of him.

We haven’t found any references on the 2 other characters depicted in the drawing and they were also not mentioned in Ronald Grossey‘s book “De klare lijn en de golven”.

However, Carine informed us that the note under the name Willy Mertens refers to a drawing further in the notebook where Mertens portrayed their professor portrait drawing (called Leclercq or Leclerc) together with another student Roger Helsmoortel.

On that page Lily Schmutzer also noted that the professor died in a V2 bombing in 1944. She also noted that Willy Mertens died in 1976.

The notes were mostly added years later “which shows that according to me at least her time at the academy must have been very important to her”, says Carine Weve.

The drawing itself depicts De Moor and his two fellow students as Zazous. You can read a lot more on the subject of the Zazou movement in this article we published in August last year: Zazouing with Bob De Moor in 1945.

The notebook of Lily Schmutzer reveals some extra information regarding the circumstances in which the students had to work. The war is clearly present in her comments spread throughout the pages. For 1943/44 she writes: “… door het in de schuilkelder zijn, slechts 1/4 werkjaar.” (“By being in the shelter all the time we only completed 1/4 of a year’s work”) And Carine also says that her mother told her children that because of the war there was no heating. Pictures taken during the academic year 1941/42 have comments like “‘s Morgens hingen de ijspegels aan onze beelden en moesten we eerst de buitenkant ontdooien. En dan kregen we wéér een maand vacantie.” (“In the morning we first had to defrost the outside of our sculptures because there were icicles hanging from them. And then they gave us again a month worth of holiday.”) In the picture below the thick coat Lily is wearing indicates that it was very cold in the classroom.

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“In the end my mum never worked as a visual artist. She became a mother of a family of 5 children – and was by then madame Lily Weve-Schmutzer, Weve being her husband’s family name – and gave us a youth where we lived around a (dining) table where we drew and pieced things together. And ‘everything was possible’,” recalls Carine. Two of the 5 kids would go to the arts academy. Sylvia Weve for instance became a multi-award winning illustrator of children’s books, among others. She for instance illustrated translated books by Roald Dahl and Mikael Engström. You can find her website right here.

Although Carine didn’t mention it in her correspondence, she is actually also active as a visual / conceptual artist and has seen her work exhibited in The Netherlands, China, Poland, the USA, Germany and Belgium. You can find some more info on her work right here.

Many many thanks go to Carine Weve for the info and pictures provided.