Jan Lavies

Jan Lavies, born Johannes Fredrik Lavies (1902 – 2005), was a Dutch poster artist. His legacy consists of a rich oeuvre of nearly 100 posters, numerous leaflets, book covers, and illustrations commissioned by dozens of companies over some 55 years (1922-1978). His work from the 1920s and 1930s in particular had many highlights, executed in a dashing, optimistic style and with a strikingly bright use of colour.

Jan Lavies, member of the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, had the the intention of becoming a drawing teacher, but the advertising profession attracted him more. Even in his academy days, he was already making posters and other printed matter, and in 1923 he boarded a boat to America, the Mecca of modern advertising. Within a year, having gained many experiences, Lavies was back and decided to work in the Dutch East Indies in 1925. In Java, he produced exhibition stands, stage sets, leaflets and advertisements and posters for import firms. Major clients included the Royal Parcel Shipping Company (K.P.M.), General Motors, the Japanese firm Daishin, and Shell. In Singapore, he worked for ‘The Progressive Publicity Company’, making advertisements for Chinese magazines in Singapore and Hong Kong, leaflets for Shell, Singapore Rubber Works, Dunlop Tyres and The Adelphi Gazette.

In 1932, Jan Lavies returned to the Netherlands. Through Smulders printers in The Hague, he soon acquired many orders, including for the Hague cigarette manufacturer Laurens Tobacco (Caballero), the National Insurance Bank, Exploitatie Maatschappij Scheveningen (EMS) and N.V. Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Mij. During the war years, Lavies mainly worked on refurbishing paintings. He designed two posters for Winter Aid and forged identity cards. After liberation, he made posters for bread factory Van der Meer & Schoep. Between 1950 and 1970, the Holland-America Line was his main client.

Lavies left much of his work to the National Cultural Heritage Agency, Sector Art Collections (RCE), and the International Institute of Social History (IISG) also has a lot of work in its collection.