L'Hecatombe La Syphilis [1922] Limited Edition Museum Print (19.5 x 30)


L'Hecatombe La Syphilis (1922) Limited Edition Museum Print

  • Edition size of 100
  • 19.5" x 30" on heavy card stock
  • Reproduced from the rare original 1922 poster, located in the Century Guild museum archive
  • Blind stamped with the Century Guild seal

About this edition print:

Belgian soldiers returning home from the front with “The French Pox” caused a massive spike in STD-related deaths in the years following World War I. In 1922, Louis Raemakers created this image illustrating "L'hecatombe la syphilis (The Mass Slaughter of Syphilis)" to combat the devastating body count caused by this sexually-transmitted disease.

A femme fatale with spidery millinery stands amidst a sea of graves, her hands cradling the skull of her victim over her sex, acidic green jewellery suggesting the poison of her charms: this sensual and arresting image is one of the rarest and most infamous graphics from the era, a masterpiece of 1920s decadence.

Louis Raemaekers was a Dutch artist who began his career as the illustrator of children's books, and turned to political illustrations around 1906. When the Germans invaded Belgium in 1914, Raemaekers aggressively portrayed the invaders as evil barbarians and their Kaiser as a Satanic minion. His cartoons were so popular, that in an attempt to maintain Dutch neutrality the Minister of Foreign Affairs directly appealed to him to stop and the German government reportedly put a bounty on his head.

In 1915 Raemakers exhibited in London, becoming an art celebrity overnight, and in 1917 the United States embraced his political art: the publishing of his work by William Randolph Hearst's syndicate placed his imagery in front of hundreds of millions of copies of newspapers and is regarded as the largest propaganda effort of the First World War. By the end of the war, he had settled in Belgium, continuing to create powerful political and socially conscious artworks.