Home » Product » Jean Dratz – Bordeaux et ses vins – 1943
  • Author: Dratz. Jean
  • Publisher: Office International d'Importation
  • Date: 1943
  • Dimensions: 73.5 x 53 cms


Rare French pictorial map poster by Jean Dratz dated 1943 and humorously celebrating the delights of the Bordeaux wine region

About this piece:

Bordeaux et ses vins

73.5 x 53 cms. Printed colour with gilding to some regional lettering & title cartouche. Narrow margins as issued. Some foxing to upper blank margin and at top right corner. Some light barely visible surface wear in upper sections and at lower right corner, just within image. Overall fine.

Amusing and entertaining cartoon map of the Bordeaux wine region designed by the Belgian-born illustrator and cartoonist, Jean Dratz [1903-1967] and dated 1943.

Extending from the Côtes-de-Blaye in the north to Arcachon in the south and La Reole in the east, it includes the wine districts of Côtes-de-Blaye, Côtes-de-Bourg, St. Emilion, Entre 2 Mers, Sauternes, Graves and Haut Médoc. All of the major wine chateaux of the region are depicted with humorous vignettes and attractive profiles of each. The town of Bordeaux itself appears centrally, represented by jumbled assortment of wine barrels, a bunch of grapes and the city’s coat of arms.  Further comic vignettes reference local fauna, fishing, shooting and cuisine.

The map was published in 1943 during the German occupation of France. Initially France was divided into two separate zones, the so-called Free (Vichy) and Occupied zones with the demarcation line between the two effectively dissecting the Bordeaux wine region, cutting off much of the eastern parts of Entre 2 Mers and St.Emilion from Bordeaux and the more westerly wine districts. The Occupied zone incorporated Bordeaux and all of the principal vineyards to the north and west. The Germans targeted many of the well-known chateaux, especially those in the Haut-Médoc with Jewish or English connections, such as Mouton-Rothschild and Lafite, requisitioning the estates and stripping the owners of their French nationality. For example Baron Philippe de Rothschild was imprisoned by the Vichy authorities in 1940 then freed in 1941, subsequently crossing the Pyrenees into Spain to join the Free French forces in England in 1942. Many other owners who fought with French forces against the Germans during the initial hostilities in May-June 1940, before the Armistice, were subsequently imprisoned and sent to POW camps in Germany and Poland. Another of the great wine estates, Chateau Haut Brion (lower centre), initially became a hospital for wounded French soldiers under its French owners before it was seized by the Germans and transformed into a rest home for the Luftwaffe.

Equipment for wine production was scarce, as indeed were glass bottles, cork and paper for the wine labels and caves. Much of the actual wine – as much as half of each harvest – had in fact to be distilled into fuel and industrial alcohol for the German war effort. And there was no copper available to create the necessary mixtures to spray the vines to prevent the blight of powdery mildew which could quickly decimate the harvest. And most local livestock had been requisitioned and food was heavily rationed, making day-to-day life in the region throughout the war years especially challenging.

And the making of wine itself during this period became ever harder. Almost all of the local French workers previously employed on the wine estates and at harvest time were now deployed in German war work, most being put to work in challenging conditions building the Atlantic Wall blockhouses, gun batteries and defences along the West coast, including around Arcachon. On the poster Arcachon’s renowned wide bay is depicted as a bustling magnet for French fishermen and a haven for local swimmers, including even the occasional nudist sunbather, with not a German soldier or concrete bunker in sight.

In November 1942 the Germans had invaded the Free Zone and taken it under their full control. Perhaps this map was published in 1943 by the German authorities to mark the reintegration of the whole Bordeaux wine region and the end of the line of demarcation between the Occupied & Free (Vichy) zones that had effectively divided & separated the area during the previous three years. Interestingly Dratz  designed a companion map poster of the Burgundy wine region with similar humorous content in this same year. He also produced a large humorous cartoon depicting the Allied Liberation of Bruxelles in September 1944.

Jean Dratz [1903-1967] was a Belgian-born artist, illustrator and cartoonist. It seems curious that he should have been the author of this unusual wartime poster, given its focus on these French wine regions and his own Belgian roots & origins. It is perhaps possible that, like many Belgian refugees, Dratz moved to France during the war years, following the German invasion and occupation of his home country in May 1940.

Examples of this poster are extremely uncommon. We are only aware of one other example being offered at auction in the past ten years. An example of his Burgundy poster is preserved in the collections of the Musée du Vin de Bourgogne in Beaune.