Flits de herder by Matho

Marius J.G. Thomassen was a Dutch illustrator, who is known for his pro-German artwork during World War II. He was born as Marius Jacques Gérard Thomassen in Utrecht, and initially studied Medicine. He cancelled his studies after one year to enroll at the Academy of Fine Arts in Liège, Belgium. The mobilization of 1914 forced him to return to his home country, where he served as an officer in the Dutch Army for five years. He returned to the arts after World War I, and initially cooperated with the illustrator Rob Graafland for a year. One of his best-known creations during this period was his drawing against Bolsjewism for the Dutch government in 1919.

He subsequently worked for the newspaper Het Nieuws van den Dag in Amsterdam, and then headed for the United States. He found employment with the McClure Syndicate in New York, and remained there until his return to the Netherlands in 1931. There, he worked for papers like Haagsche Post ('Taalkundig Prentenboek') and De Telegraaf, and was head of the art department of the advertising agency De Globe in Amsterdam. Among his credits was the design of the worldwide "Current Eater" campaign of Philips. Thomassen had been illustrating children's stories in the 1930s and early 1940s for publishers like Van Goor, Malmberg, Leopold, Kluitman and Roskam.

Marius Thomassen
Marius Thomassen (De Indische courant, 20 May 1933)

He gained notoriety however for illustrating 'De avonturen van Flits, de herder en Bull, de dog' under the pseudonym Mathos. It was an antisemitic propaganda book aimed at primary schools, released by the Department of Information and Arts in 1943. The story portrayed Churchill as Bull the Dog as Churchill, Hitler as Flits the German shepherd and the Jewish people as rats.

Very obscure is a prototype of a game that he designed, called 'Long Tau', based on an old Chinese game. He sent it to Hausemann & Hotte (now Jumbo) for reviewing in 1943, but the company never took it into production. The prototype is now at the Amsterdam Historical Museum, and a version of the game can also be seen in the Toy Museum in Deventer. During this period, the artist lived in Amsterdam. No work by or further whereabouts of Thomassen are known from after 1943. He passed away in Maastricht in 1971.

Flits de herder by MathoFlits de herder by Matho

Blog about the booklet at the site of the Royal Library

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