Politiek gesprek by Christiaan Le Blansch
'Politiek Gesprek Vóór De Verkiezingen' (Polichinel #2, 6 January 1849).

Christiaan le Blansch was a 19th-century Dutch illustrator, engraver and bookbinder. He was allegedly also a cartoonist for the short-lived satirical magazine Polichinel in 1849.

Early life and career
Christiaan Le Blansch was born in 1827 in The Hague, as the son of wood engraver, book printer and typesetter Hendrikus Le Blansch (1796-1860). He followed in his father's footsteps and got his education at the Haagse Houtgraveurschool, a school for wood engraving. Hendrikus and Christiaan Le Blansch had their own shop in The Hague, where they sold original wood engravings. The pair then headed to Rotterdam where they operated with Pieter Johannes Spaan under the firm name "Le Blansch en Spaan" until 1856. Christiaan Le Blansch settled in Amsterdam in 1857, where he initially worked with vignette caster F. W. Vislaake & Co. He later had his own engraving school in the Nieuwe Leliestraat around 1865. During his Amsterdam period, he has made many drawings of local streets and buildings, which are currently in the collection of the Amsterdam City Archive. He has also illustrated several so-called "fairground prints". 

Wood engraving of the guildhall for brokers ("Het Makelaarskantoor") at the Amsterdam Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal (1860).

Le Blansch was also a contributor to Polichinel, the mild-satirical magazine founded and edited by poet and printer W.J. van Zeggelen and literator Sam Jan van den Bergh in cooperation with publisher A.C. Kruseman. Both editors were members of the Hague literary society Oefening Kweekt Kennis, which was a breeding ground for several literary publications. The magazine didn't last long; only eight issues were published in early 1849. This was largely because both editors and publisher didn't dare to offend the establishment. Therefore the social and political satire in the magazine was very tame, and the public quickly lost interest.

Politiek Gesprek Vóór De Verkiezingen
Christiaan Le Blansch is credited with at least one cartoon in the second issue of 6 January 1849. The piece represents a "political discussion before the elections" in ten images. Two stately gentlemen begin their conversation in a civilized manner, but end up in a brawl. The origin of the cartoon is a  mystery. The same strip appeared under the caption "political talk in one hour" in the 162th issue of the German satirical magazine Fliegende Blätter in the first half of 1848... about a year before Polichinel. Although it is possible that Le Blansch was a contributor to this publication, it is more likely that he traced the German original for the Dutch publication. It was known that the Polichinel editors regularly copied cartoons and drawings from German publications like Illustrierte Zeitung.

German (original?) version of the cartoon from Fliegende Blätter (1848).

But the cartoon's legacy doesn't end there. The Brazilian weekly Semana Illustrada published a redrawn version of the strip on 30 December 1860, presumably by the magazine's editor Heinrich Fleiuss. And then six years later, a Czech magazine printed another version drawn by local artist Karel Klíč. By the 1870s the same joke was also part of the proto-comic book 'The Wonderful and Soul Thrilling Adventures by Land and Sea of Oscar Shanghai' by a yet to be identified American author, who signed with "A.L.C.".

Christiaan Le Blansch passed away in Amsterdam on 5 November 1889.

Brazilian and Czech version of the same cartoon.

More about the Brazilian version of the debate cartoon on HQ Retro

Series and books by Christiaan Le Blansch you can order today:


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