Christiaan (or Chris) Lebeau, poster design for Amsterdam life insurance, 1910.
Joris Johannes Christiaan (Chris) Lebeau (Amsterdam, 26 May 1878 – concentration camp Dachau, 2 April 1945) was a Dutch designer, painter and anarchist.
Chris Lebeau was the son of Jacques Charles Lebeau, engineer and shopkeeper, and Grietje Scholte. Lebeau was born in an Amsterdam cellar house as the fourth and last child in the working class family. Father Lebeau was a socialist and Lebeau accompanied him at the door-to-door with the organ for Law for All. On May 7, 1902, Lebeau married Anna M. Leverington, with whom he had a daughter. This marriage was dissolved on February 27, 1919. On May 7, 1932, he entered into a free marriage with Maria Sofia (Sof) Herman. On November 12, 1935, he married Ilse Ruth Voigt in London. This marriage was dissolved by divorce on January 14, 1937.
Lebeau began his education at the Quellinus Amsterdam School of Applied Arts from 1892 to 1895, then at the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid in Amsterdam from 1895 to 1899. In 1904 he became a teacher at the Haarlem Arts and Crafts School until 1914.
Lebeau was a very versatile artist; he designed designs for linen for the linen manufacturer E.J.F. van Dissel in Eindhoven, glass for Glasfabriek Leerdam, was a plateel painter at the Haga pottery in Purmerend and designed earthenware at Amphora in Oegstgeest. In addition to wallpaper paper designs, he was involved in batik, painting, drawing, making ex libris and designing bookbindings and stamps, such as the Flying pigeon series known among philatelists. He also took care of sets, posters and programs for Theater Verkade in The Hague, where he spent three years. After batting, he worked with damask, graphic designs, free graphics, theater sets, lithographs, chalk and pen drawings, glassware, stained glass, wall paintings, woodcuts, sculptures and theater interiors. His applied work includes table linen, bookbinding designs and book decorations, posters, cartoons, calendars, banners, catalogs and diplomas. His other work consists of making landscapes, still lifes and portraits. Among other things he made wall scenes for the Old-Catholic church in Leiden (1926-1928) and wall paintings and stained glass in the wedding room of the former town hall in the Prinsenhof (Amsterdam) (1927).
Lebeau designed damask table linen on behalf of E.J.F. van Dissel & sons. He also designed textile for the Eindhoven ripening factories Schellens & Marto and the ’s-Gravenhaagsche Smyrna carpet factory.
Lebeau also worked as a teacher at an evening vocational school in the Jordaan and from 1904 to 1914 at the School for Applied Arts in Haarlem, where he was, among others, teacher of Johan Briedé and an important inspiration for the Haarlem artists Ab (Albert) Loots and Jan Mooijman. In 1908 he worked for a while in Antwerp and in 1914 he went to Indonesia with the theater company E. Verkade for six months. The work of Lebeau is predominantly decorative.
Lebeau professed his convictions with great ferocity. He called himself a religious anarcho-communist. In 1904 he was co-founder of the Nederlandsche Vereeniging voor Ambachts- en Nijverheidskunst (VANK).
After the National Socialists were in power in Germany in 1933, Lebeau closed a sham marriage with a German Jewish refugee. In the same period he took Sixta Heddema under his wing as a pupil. During the occupation, Lebeau and Heddema used their artistic knowledge to forge documents. On November 3, 1943, Lebeau, his wife and Heddema were arrested for help to Jewish Dutchmen. He could get free if he promised to abstain from illegal work, but he rejected that. Via Vught, where he arrived on 24 February 1944, he was transferred to concentration camp Dachau on 25 May 1944. He died of exhaustion there. The work in his studio was secured by Heddema, who was released, and on her death bequeathed to the Fine Arts Foundation, whose collection since the 1970s has been housed at the Drents Museum in Assen.
In the Drents Museum in Assen, a retrospective of his work was held in 1987.