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L’Entente Cordiale 1915

  • Author: VON BAUMGARTEN, Eugen (Artist / Printer / Publisher)
  • Date: 1915
  • Dimensions: Image: 37 x 44 cms / Sheet: 45 x 55 cms


1915 German propaganda poster: a voracious British spider devours its French allies & weaves an all-entangling European web

About this piece:

L’Entente Cordiale 1915

Printed colour. Wide margins. Light traces of old vertical & horizontal fold. Slight soiling to area of verso with associated fraying to sheet edge, here also a small circular brown stain showing through to recto in blank margin at lower right of sheet. Otherwise in fine, original unrestored condition.

A native of Munich, Eugen von Baumgarten [c.1863/7-1919] was an experienced & well-connected commercial artist & illustrator, the cousin of one of the city’s leading journalists, Hermann Roth, of the Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten. He worked prolifically in the pre-war years for many of the leading humorous and satirical newspapers & journals of the region, including Münchener Humoristischen Blättern; Der Bayrische Kladderadatsch; Kikeriki-Kalender (Tageblatt); Geißel; Süddeutscher Postillon and Jugend. In the final years of the 19th Century, his cousin Roth took over the Munich Oktober-Fest-Zeitung, a connection which brought Von Baumgarten much further work. Many of his pre-war cartoons & caricatures celebrate the easy comic humour of Bavarian life & culture.

In the wartime period, he became a well-known propaganda artist, working mainly through his own printing & publishing company. His wartime works, though frequently unsigned, can usually be recognized by his artistic monogram (a pun on his surname, Baumgarten (orchard) showing a fruit tree behind a short slatted fence). These propaganda postcards and posters often display a biting and darkly sinister, satirical humour.

This poster is no exception. The title ostensibly refers to the important alliance concluded between Britain & France in April 1904.  Von Baumgarten appears to be trying to make a clever pun on the French words “corde” (string) & “cordiale” (heartfelt), as the menacing form of a giant British spider consumes a symbolic French soldier & weaves an ever-growing web across a map of Europe. Uncle Sam & other colonial onlookers stand entwined in the spider’s fine threads on the far peripheries of the map. An imperious German eagle surveys the scene, as German U-Boats cut through the web’s outer strands, a reference to the increasing impact of German submarine attacks on Allied shipping during 1915.