The 17 x 13 cm signed artwork "La caravelle"
The 17 x 13 cm signed artwork “La caravelle”

In March 2009 the Art Value auction house based in Drouot-Montaigne, Paris (France) auctioned a watercolor painting/drawing which Bob De Moor made back in 1944. Called “La caravelle” it was made as an illustration for a book or story which never was edited (so the prospectus says). The 17 x 13 cm signed artwork was sold for 750 €. It’s highly doubtful that this drawing was really called “La caravelle”, a french word. It’s more likely it was called “Het karveel”, in Dutch, that is if it had a name at all. A caravel was a small, highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.

A different scan.
A different scan.

The picture we show you here is only an upgraded example of a picture which was provided by Art Value (we have asked for a bigger sized one, but got not answer back yet). On the drawing we see a boat holding the name “Bleef het maar duren”  aka “If only it lasted” in English. A better scan we found after the initial posting of this article revealed the letters more clearly. De Moor filled the ship with all kind of comical situations: a boatsman/captain steering the ship with handles, a sailor smelling the stench of a latrine bowl being emptied in the sea, a man in a canon ready to be fired, sables with plasters, and so on.

We are not sure when the drawing was realized, we only know it was somewhere in 1944 as the drawing was signed ‘Bob 1944’. If it was after the liberation of Antwerp, it should be dated after September 4th, 1944. If it was before it meant Bob De Moor made it during the time he was forced by the German occupier to work in the Erla factories in Mortsel near Antwerp. ‘Forced’ because the AFIM studios of Ray Goossens got closed due to the refusal of the studio chiefs to move their activities to Germany’s UFA studios. Several collaborators went into hiding to escape forced labour but Bob De Moor was less lucky. Not that it would stop his art activity as he drew a lot of anti-German cartoons during that time.

Note that Erla was a German company in Mortsel which also repaired the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter plane of the Luftwaffe. It was the target of an allied bombing campaign on April 5th 1943 which went horribly wrong. Only 4 of the 599 1000-pound bombs hit the factory while all the other bombs hit civil targets resulting in 936 dead, including 209 children. 1.342 people got wounded and 1.259 houses were destroyed. Although only 4 bombs hit the Erla factory the fire caused poisonous smoke killing 307 employees.

If you have more info or a better scan of this painting/drawing, then please contact us.

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