PhotoLexicon, Volume 11, nr. 24 (November 1994) (en)

Frits Lemaire

Adriaan Elligens


Frits Lemaire began his career in the film industry prior to the war. He worked his way up from being a lighting assistant to a cameraman and also became a photographer. Lemaire’s interest in photography emerged prior to this time, during a visit to an exhibition on the work of Henri Berssenbrugge in 1936. Lemaire was primarily specialised in theatre photography, but he also did work in the areas of portrait photography (mainly actors and actresses), advertising and studio photography. Lemaire took his last theatrical photos in 1987. For many years after, he actively photographed art objects and paintings in the studio.




Frederik Louis Lemaire is born on 7 March on the Ruysdaelstraat in Amsterdam.


M.L.J. Lemaire, Frits Lemaire’s father, establishes a business at Leidsestraat 29 with a ‘storehouse Morocco, exotic jewellery and textiles’.


After completing his education at the business school on the Van Ostadestraat in Amsterdam, Frits Lemaire is hired by the Nederlandsche Filmassociatie ‘Visie’ (‘Netherlands Film Association ‘Vision”), initially as a lighting assistant and later as an assistant cameraman. In 1940, Lemaire works as a cameraman on the film Zeven jongens en een oude schuit (‘Seven Boys and an Old Bark’, after the book of the same title by A.C. de Vletter) under the direction of George Bakos, a Hungarian film director. The film is distributed by the Nederlandsche Smalfilm Centrale (‘Netherlands Short Film Central’).


Film production ceases during the war. Lemaire devotes himself to photographing objects of art and paintings in his studio at Leidsestraat 29 in Amsterdam, the address of his father’s store. He becomes increasingly involved in the production of false identity papers and rubber stamps, on behalf of the resistance group established by Gerrit Jan van der Veen.


Lemaire is arrested and imprisoned for four-and-a-half months at the prison on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam.


After the liberation, Lemaire works for a brief time for the photo press agency ANeFo (Algemeen Nederlandsch Fotoburo, ‘General Dutch Photo Bureau’).

Lemaire resumes work at his photography studio at Leidsestraat 29 in Amsterdam.


Lemaire takes his first theatrical photos for Comedia, a theatrical company under the direction of Cor Ruys.


Lemaire is hired on a permanent basis as a theatrical photographer with Comedia.


In November, ‘Van Houten’s cocoa factories’ commissions Lemaire to work as a cameraman in Ghana on the film Bruin goud (‘Brown Gold’), directed by Theo van Haren Noman, with the film script written by Louis van Gasteren. The expedition returns to the Netherlands in April 1952. The film premieres on 22 June 1953 at the Kriterion Theatre in Amsterdam.

In the early 1950s, Lemaire moves to Leidsestraat 28, where his father and a man named ‘Beunink’ run a store selling oriental carpets. Leidsestraat 29 is now his private home address.


Lemaire enters a business partnership with Willem Wennink. From this time on, the two men run a studio under the name ‘Fotostudio Lemaire en Wennink’ at Leidsestraat 28.


Lemaire and Wennink move their studio to Reguliersgracht 80 in Amsterdam.


Lemaire moves from Leidsestraat 29 to Kerkstraat 68 in Amsterdam.


Lemaire and Wennink find a second studio space at Prinsengracht 70 in Amsterdam. They keep this studio until 1960, at which time they are able to expand the available studio space at Reguliersgracht 80.


Lemaire works as a cameraman on Max de Haas’ film Droom zonder einde (‘Dream without End’). He moves from Kerkstraat 68 to Gerrit van der Veenstraat 47 in Amsterdam.


Lemaire’s professional partner, Willem Wennink, moves to France. Lemaire continues his work as a photographer under the name Studio Lemaire.


On 21 November, Lemaire celebrates his twenty-fifth anniversary as a professional photographer.


Lemaire stops with theatre photography.


Lemaire continues his father’s business in ethnographic art from his own address at Reguliersgracht 80 in Amsterdam, together with his sister, Trees Lemaire. His primary activity is photographing artworks in the studio, using a Cambo studio camera.


Frits Lemaire dies on 29 December in Amsterdam.


How did a sixteen-year-old with a business education end up working in the pre-war Dutch film industry? Frits Lemaire credited this to his cousin Cor Lemaire, who had composed the music for the film De ballade van de hooge hoed (‘The Ballad of the Tall Hat’, 1937). During the shooting of the film, Frits was hired as a lighting assistant and charged with overseeing the focus settings. This film was a cinema production of the Nederlandsche Filmassociatie ‘Visie’ (‘Netherlands Film Association “Vision”‘) run by Max and Jo de Haas, located at Haringvlietstraat 24 in Amsterdam. Jo de Haas was the cameraman; Max de Haas wrote the script and did the film direction. Vision tried to make innovative productions on a limited budget, with an emphasis on short films shown prior to feature films in Dutch movie houses.

Frits Lemaire was hired at Vision as the successor of the photographer Charles Breijer, who left the organisation in 1936 following a working conflict. During Frits Lemaire’s years at Vision, there was a whole succession of camera people. Taking Jo de Haas’ place was Otto van Neyenhof, who worked as the cameraman on the 35 mm film Hier luchthaven Schiphol (‘Here Schiphol Airport’, 1938). Following Neyenhof was Emil van Moerkerken, from whom Frits Lemaire learned a great deal. Van Moerkerken ‘was highly experienced and had a desire to share his knowledge with others.’ As a cameraman, Van Moerkerken was hired to work on the railway film Na 100 jaar (‘100 years later’, 1939). Lemaire took publicity photos of the film shoots and photographed various aspects of the railroads for Vision during the film’s production. He was then chosen as a camera assistant for the film Lichtende verten (‘Shining Distances’), commissioned by the Nederlandsche Blindenbond (‘Netherlands Federation for the Blind’). With the outbreak of World War II, a number of employees at Vision left the country. Max de Haas departed for the Dutch East Indies via Great Britain. Herman Wassenaar stayed behind and continued Vision’s initiative, with Lemaire as the organisation’s cameraman. Frits was the cameraman on the production Droomlandmelodie (‘Dreamland Melody’, 1941), directed by Herman Wassenaar, with music by the orchestra conductor Roelof Wassenaar. It was a short, rather odd production—partially animated—about the dream of a little girl who has been listening to the radio. The film was ten minutes in duration and was to be shown in movie theatres prior to the main feature. According to Lemaire, the ambitious scope of the film was a failure. In 1941, Droomlandmelodie was nevertheless shown at Cineac movie theatres.

In the summer of 1940, Lemaire produced a 16 mm black-and-white film in the Dutch town of Heemstede, entitled Zeven jongens en een oude schuit (‘Seven Boys and an old ‘), based on the book of the same name by A.C. de Vletter and commissioned by the Nederlandsche Smalfilm Centrale (‘Netherlands Short Film Centre’). Lemaire made the film with a synchronised sound camera adapted by the Hungarian director George Bakos. In 1942, it appeared in every Cineac movie theatre.

During the war, Frits Lemaire’s involvement in film production came to a standstill. It was during this period that he did work for the resistance group led under Gerrit Jan van der Veen instigation. Only after the war did Lemaire came to learn the identity of the person for whom he had been work. For security reasons, he had never been told. His only contact person with the group was the interior architect Elmar Berkovich, who then worked for the Metz & Co department store on the Leidsestraat in Amsterdam. Berkovich was an old family acquaintance from the time that Lemaire’s father worked at Metz. Starting in the early 1930s, Lemaire’s father had run a business on the Leidsestraat specialised in ‘Moroccan art objects, exotic jewellery and textiles’ in close proximity to Metz & Co.

In his work for the Dutch resistance, Frits Lemaire photographed rubber stamps and then printed them in an enlarged form. This was then drawn over in East India ink and subsequently reduced to its actual size with a rubber stamp maker. In addition, Lemaire took passport photos for false identity papers, which were printed by the printer/publisher Frans Duwaer at Nieuwe Looiersstraat 45 in Amsterdam. Duwaer was executed during the war stemming from this activity. In de winter of 1942, Lemaire received a visit from the Sicherheitsdienst (the intelligence agency of the German SS). He was taken to the prison on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam, based on the suspicion of illegal activities in connection with addresses and passport photos found in his home. Lemaire was imprisoned there for four-and-a-half months, with six people to a cell. One of these six people was the director of the Amsterdam incineration company who had been hiding radios on company grounds, and a hotel owner who had asked his violinist to play an English tune. By his own account, Lemaire’s time spent in prison was pleasant, but this would not keep him from falling ill. A German business associate of Lemaire’s father arranged his release, when making a chance enquiry regarding the welfare of his children. On what grounds Lemaire had been imprisoned was never made clear. He himself suspects there was some kind of link to a shady affair involving the informer Daan Blom, who was liquidated by Hans Katan in 1942. Blom had been the one to inform the Germans of the address where family relations of Lemaire (who was himself half-Jewish) were known to have been in hiding.

Frits Lemaire was never a member of the ‘Fotografengilde’ (‘Photographers’ Guild’), an organisation established during the years of the war, nor was he registered with the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer (‘Netherlands Chamber of Culture’). Having no diplomas in his possession, only with great difficulty was able to establish himself as a professional photographer. It was Willem Sandberg, director of the Stedelijk Museum, who arranged an exemption at the ministerial level, officially recognising Lemaire as a photographer. Shortly after the war, Lemaire became a member of the NFPV (Nederlandse Fotografen Patroonsvereeniging, ‘Netherlands Photographers’ Guild) so as to ensure access to photographic material at a time when resources were scarce.

Towards the end of the war, Emil van Moerkerken asked Lemaire to record the approaching liberation on film for the group that later came to be referred to as ‘The Illegal Camera’. For this purpose, the director of the photography dealership ‘Lux’, Breuer, supplied Lemaire with ample quantities of photo and film material. Lemaire’s film footage was sent on to Great Britain, thereafter disappearing without a trace. Shortly after the liberation, Lemaire also worked on preparations being made for the exhibition of ‘The Illegal Camera’, to be held at Marius Meijboom’s large studio on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. In addition to his own photos, Lemaire also printed a number of photos taken by other photographers, of which he now says: ‘It was sensational to print work of the major professionals. Meijboom was on good terms with De Bijenkorf department store. He received material from them to build and furnish the exposition. Anything you needed. But not many people attended the exhibition. There was no major interest. You can find my photos that were exhibited there in the book Amsterdam tijdens de hongerwinter (‘Amsterdam during the Hunger Winter’, publishers: Contact/De Bezige Bij). Oorthuys’ shots of the bodies in the Zuiderkerk [in Amsterdam] made the biggest impression at the time.’

Lemaire became friends with Marius Meijboom, who asked him to accompany him on photo sessions of the royal family in the period just after the war, because he needed ‘a fine and trustworthy person as an assistant.’ In the early 1950s, one of Meijboom’s projects was to shoot photos for the ‘princess calendars’ on behalf of Pro Juventute (a youth charity organisation). The business propositions put forth by the RVD (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, ‘Government Information Service’) were not always to Meijboom’s liking, specifically with respect to rights of authorship. Having just completed construction of a stage for the royal family’s photo session, he was approached by the RVD with a request to hand over all rights concerning the photo series. Meijboom responded: ‘Gentleman, I have just finished making a stage. You can have it. Then I will withdraw.’ For the RVD, a compromise was now clearly in order. Lemaire took advantage of Meijboom’s qualities as a teacher and was initially under the influence of his vision of photography, from which he eventually distanced himself: ‘Even then, Meijboom was a little old-fashioned’ according to Lemaire, and prone to major retouching and smooth shiny faces.

After the war, Lemaire continued his activities as a cameraman. In 1951, he met Theo van Haren Noman, who asked him to work together with Louis van Gasteren on a film about chocolate commissioned by the company Van Houten. The project involved the filming the processing and production of cocoa in the Netherlands, but also its production and harvesting in Africa. In November 1951, a team departed accompanied by a General Motors ‘Heavy Utility Personnel Car’ with four-wheel drive, which they drove across the Sahara to the city of Accra in Ghana. Lemaire filmed with a 16 mm and 35 mm camera and had a Bolex and an Arriflex at his disposal. In Accra, he shot the 35 mm film Haven zonder kranen (‘Harbour without Cranes’). In 1953, this short ten-minute film was chosen to represent the Netherlands at the film festivals in Venice and Edinburgh. Lemaire was also able to record this journey in numerous shots taken with his Rolleiflex. On the return trip, the team experienced car trouble. As returning to Amsterdam with the car was important for publicity reasons, they had it transported back across the Sahara by truck. In 1953, the 35mm film made for Van Houten was distributed under the title of Bruin goud (‘Brown Gold’). Lemaire worked on several other films in collaboration with Van Haren Noman, including: De zekere weg (‘The Sure Way’, 1954), a propaganda film commissioned by the Nationale coöperatie aan- en verkoop vereniging Centraal Bureau (‘National Cooperative Acquisition and Sales Association Central Office’) in Rotterdam on the necessity of agricultural cooperatives; the feature film, Gisteren komt nooit weerom (‘Yesterday is Never Returning’, 1959), commissioned by what was then the Ministry of Education, Arts and Science; and three advertising films for the company Friesche Vlag.

Lemaire’s last film was made in 1962, this time in collaboration with the pre-war photographer Max de Haas, who had written the film script. Entitled Droom zonder einde (‘Dream without End’), the production ended up being a rather odd fifteen-minute ‘crypto-philosophical’ feature film, made possible through the assistance of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Sciences. The film tells of a man, who while listening to his transistor radio, learns another planet is careening towards earth at tremendous speed. In his imagination (or dream), he tries to warn as many people as possible, but only meets with disbelief and stoicism. He ends up in a nightclub, where the striptease dancer dons a gas mask. He even encounters a herd of elephants. ‘A symbolism that still remains hidden’, as one newspaper critic observed. While the press was not too overly enthusiastic about the film script, the ‘concise editing, Peter Schat’s music, and Frits Lemaire’s photography’ received substantial praise.

In 1948, Lemaire began specialising in theatre photography. By the mid-1980s, he had photographed approximately 1,000 different stage plays. Lemaire received his first theatrical commission after having produced portrait shots for acquaintances of Cees Laseur, who worked for the theatre company Comedia. Laseur had invited Lemaire to make these shots, because the company had no photographer of its own. In this same period, Maria Austria was also taking photos for Comedia. According to Lemaire, his meetings with Austria ‘at first led to friction’. ‘Maria Austria was a resolute woman. In the beginning, she tried to stop me from photographing. She later gave in’. Together with Maria Austria, Frits Lemaire was responsible for the greatest part of theatre photography (including cabaret and other stage photography) in the Netherlands in the decades following the war. He photographed for a large number of theatrical companies, including Cor Ruys (1949-1952), de Nederlandse Comedie (‘Netherlands Comedy’, 1950-1966), Globe (1952-1967 en 1971-1974), Haagse Comedie (‘Hague Comedy’, 1952-1967), Centrum (‘Centre’, 1954-1976), Rotterdams Toneel (‘Rotterdam Theatre’, 1954-1961), Tingel Tangel (1956-1978), Studio (1959-1966), Accolade Produkties (‘Accolade Productions’, 1978-1982), Katrijn (1979-1983) as well as for the companies Comedia, Fien de la Mar, Puck, and the Noordercompagnie (‘Northern Company’). In addition, Lemaire photographed the performances of Wim Kan, Sieto Hoving, as well as musicals by the Dutch writer Annie M.G. Schmidt.

In 1952, Lemaire entered a business partnership with Willem Wennink, who had previously worked as an assistant to Marius Meijboom. Wennink chiefly oversaw the partnership’s business relations and assisted as a photographer during the busier periods. During this collaborative period, Lemaire was responsible for ninety percent of the shots taken. All were nevertheless distributed under the name ‘Fotostudio Lemaire en Wennink’. Besides theatre photography, Lemaire and Wennink (and later ‘Studio Lemaire’) also did product photography starting in the 1950s—working with a studio camera—as well as fashion and advertising photography for clients such as Palm, Pätz, Pieter Schoen, Raet & Baet, Bauduin, Hans Snel, Prad, De Bussy Zimmerman, Philips, and Neveda. From 1953 to 1964, Lemaire also photographed presentations, themes, and storefront windows for the Bijenkorf department store, at the time that Benno Premsela was a designer there. According to Lemaire: ‘The storefront windows couldn’t be photographed on the street until after twelve noon due to the available light, with an enormous black sheet behind the camera to prevent annoying reflections’. In the period 1965 to 1973, Lemaire also photographed covers for paperback books translated from English into Dutch by the Born publishing company. These included detective novels by authors such as Frank Arnau (With Screaming Sirens), Edward S. Aarons (Assignment Budapest), Nick Carter (Checkmate in Rio), Jonathan Craig (Case of the Petticoat Murder) and Donald Hamilton (The Retaliators), spy novels by Adam Hall (The Berlin Memorandum) and others, as well as mysteries and science fiction by authors such as Algis Budrys (Who?) and Jack Finney (The Invasion of the Body Snatchers). For these covers, Lemaire devised his own photographic solutions in collaboration with their designer, Alex Jagtenberg: ‘They were often heated, suggestive shots, and in the case of science fiction, usually tabletops. Though we were told that the books looked like a box of detergent, they sold extremely well, especially in the beginning. I think I made hundreds of them.’ His best-known cover was undoubtedly that for Albert Mol’s Wat zien ik... Gesprekken met Blonde Greet. Ontboezemingen van een vrouw uit het Amsterdamse leven (‘What doe I see… Conversations with Blonde Greet. Confessions of a Woman of the Amsterdam Life’), published in 1965. The cover showed a woman’s high-heeled legs, photographed at night on a deserted Thorbecke Square in Amsterdam. It was a highly suggestive shot. In the month of November 1965 alone, five editions of the book were published. The collaboration between Lemaire and Wennink lasted until mid-1968, at which time Wennink moved to France. Lemaire kept the photo agency running under the name ‘Fotostudio Lemaire’ (‘Photo Studio Lemaire’).

Starting in 1952, the Nederlands Theater Jaarboek (‘Netherlands Theatre Annual’), with Luisa Treves as its editor, strived to provide a richly illustrated overview of theatre productions in the Netherlands on a yearly basis. Starting with the very first issue of this publication, which held photography in high regard, the photographer’s name was clearly stated for every published photo, without exception. These yearbooks provide an excellent overview of theatre photography, theatre photographers, and theatre photos selected by its readers over the years. The Netherlands Theatre Annual also provides interesting material for comparison. The annual’s readers were asked in a survey to name not only the actress, actor, and ‘Stage Play of the Year’, but also the ‘Theatre Photo of the Year’. Editor-in-chief Luisa Treves was greatly impressed by the stage photograph that Lemaire took for the play Venus bespied (‘Venus Spied Upon’), which was among the three photographs awarded in the first annual. The other two awards were also bestowed on him.

Frits Lemaire (in a number of cases accompanied by the name of his business partner, Willem Wennink) and Maria Austria (in a number of cases accompanied by the name of her colleague at Particam, Henk Jonker) were the photographers responsible for most of the photography in the Netherlands Theatre Annual up until the mid-1970s. Lemaire and Austria alternated in being chosen as the photographer of the Theatre Photo of the Year. In the period 1951 to 1973, Frits Lemaire received the yearbook’s ‘Theatre Photo of the Year’ award eleven times, Maria Austria seven times. On several occasions, the two photographers shared the honour together. An element of competition existed between Lemaire and Austria, somewhat affirmed by written annotations made by Austria alongside many of the photos in her own personal copies of the annuals she received. In the colophon of the 1957/1958 yearbook, she placed the note ’29x’ next to her own photos and wrote ’29x + cover’ next to those of Lemaire and Wennink. Frits Lemaire is quick to add, however, that ‘the reader’s preference for “The Best Photo” was highly dependent on the quality of the play’.

In presenting a balanced picture, it must be observed that Lemaire and Austria were directly affiliated with the theatrical companies. Both photographers generally possessed a kind of monopoly, assuring the field of theatre photography was an area largely exclusive to themselves. Other photographers whose work is featured in these publications can be counted on one hand, with only a small number of photos in each issue. In the 1950s, the names of Louis van Paridon (brother of the actor, Egbert van Paridon) and Godfried de Groot are also encountered a number of times. No earlier than the late 1950s did Austria and Lemaire face competition from the likes of Philip Mechanicus, Pan Sok, Jutka Rona, and Wouter van Heusden. Luisa Treves, whose personal preference was traditional theatre, gave up her editorial seat after 1974. It was at that point that Lemaire’s theatrical assignments began to decline in number, with only a few photos published in the annual.

Theatre photography can be defined by a number of limiting circumstances. It is photography on assignment. The photographer has no choice but to adhere to his client’s wishes. The lighting is not to be adjusted. The actors are in no way to be disturbed and stage decors are designed down to the very last detail. Frits Lemaire turned these restrictive factors to his favour in a remarkable way: ‘In theatre, people are happy with someone who simply does his work and creates no distractions. It’s a topic to be greatly admired. After all, what’s better than having one’s subjects presented on a platter. You also don’t have to deal with other photographers getting in your way at the earliest opportunity. It’s the most desirable topic a photographer could ever wish for. To make good photos, one has to closely watch the play in its entirety. It’s best if one first sees everything in advance without taking photos. Unfortunately, there’s hardly any time for this. I usually worked with two people; Maria also worked in this manner. If something occurs that’s worth the trouble both in dramatic and photographic terms, but you don’t manage to capture it at that very instant, then you can just have it acted out once again, after the play’s over.’

Lemaire started out with a Leica, but switched to a Rolleiflex. These cameras were later supplemented with the more versatile—but also much noisier—Hassleblad, as well as a Mamiya Reflex. For his black-and-white theatre photography, Lemaire preferred Ilford HP3 film.

One can distinguish a three-part chronology in Frits Lemaire’s theatre photography, corresponding to developments in theatrical art. The first period is that of still photography in the first half of the 1950s, in which characteristic scenes (the so-called ‘key scenes’) are acted out in front of the camera. Photos of this type can be characterised by their careful lighting, such as found in a studio shot, without the perceivable intervention of stage lighting, and a carefully composed staging, where in some cases a ‘freeze-effect’ can be seen with the actors. The actors’ theatrical poses and the attributes—relevant to a thorough understanding of the situation being acted out—are typical of this kind of photography, particularly evident in the double portraits. From a modern perspective, the charm conveyed in the staging—conceived down to the smallest detail—and the uniform lighting of these photos comes across as out-dated. One example of this kind of photo is the shot of Venus bespied (1951), which so impressed the chief editor of the Netherlands Theatre Annual. The title of the play appears literally in the photo.

The second period, starting in the mid-1950s, is characterised by Lemaire’s explicit stage photography, in which the spatial situation of the stage becomes more tangible as the years progress and the ‘shoe-box’ effect gradually disappears. In this period, attributes were noticeably less important. The photos show a greater emptiness than before. Black backgrounds or abstract effects through the alternation of light and dark filled this empty space. It must be said that the tendency towards emptiness in these photos was largely determined by the simplification and stylisation of theatre design during the second half of the 1950s. An example is the photo of Joseph in Dothan, a play by the famous Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel, with an abstract design by Wim Vesseur (January 1959). This was an old piece staged in a contemporary setting. Lemaire now concludes: ‘Stage scene photos illustrate that ideas about theatre grow old quickly’. But such notions regarding theatre in turn influenced theatre photography to an important extent. Besides the example of Joseph in Dothan, there were also modern pieces performed in the 1950s—written by authors such as Harry Mulisch, Hugo Claus, and Eugène Ionesco—which gave rise to a new form of theatre photography in a natural way through the decors and lighting. In other examples, the abstracted decors of Eppo Doeve and Nicolaas Wijnberg give the performances and the photos a new exuberance. In other words, the changes in theatre obliged theatre photography to seek another identity, i.e. to take on another appearance.

During the third phase of Lemaire’s theatre photography in the 1960s, theatre was subject to a growing modernisation and socialisation. The audience in the theatre was now more involved. Especially the emerging forms of fringe and experimental theatre were drawing new interest. Besides the spoken word, the expression of movement began to play a greater role. As a consequence of these developments, Lemaire’s photography ultimately moves towards a visual idiom, which surpasses that of the period preceding: daring to take the risk of blur, strong contrasts, abrupt crops, and the deliberate use of the wide angle. Lemaire’s working association with ‘Studio’, a company promoting itself as an avant-garde theatre group, resulted in photos that illustrate this.

The development of theatre photography was analogous to the development of theatre. The ‘Photo of the Year’ 1967-1968 in the Netherlands Theatre Annual did not go to Lemaire, but instead to Ed van der Elsken. It was a raw, blurry stage scene photograph taken from Moeder Courage (‘Mother Courage’), in which Marja Habraken is caught up in a war of words with her opponent, Ank van der Moer. The photo, characterised by its blurriness with strokes of grey and black, is by no means a compositional high point, and yet it has a tremendous expressiveness. Van der Moer’s balled fist, raised in front of her adversary’s twisted face, is the only point in the shot where the light in the photo comes together—an image that appears as if it had been made in passing, referring more to documentary versus theatre photography. It represents a style foreign to Lemaire’s theatre photography, which liberated itself from traditional design only in gradations. Van der Elsken’s photo was in no way related to such an approach.

In retrospect, Lemaire concludes that ‘theatre photography is the most desirable topic a photographer could ever wish for. When considered as such, it is surprising that Maria Austria and I were the only leading theatrical photographers for decades.’ While this last point is true, both photographers in fact were able to control their monopoly based on their direct association with theatre groups. In doing so, Lemaire and Austria were able to determine the look of theatre photography for decades and were as well successful in excluding all other visions of photography in their field. It was this, together with his qualities, that made Frits Lemaire the most important theatrical photographer in the Netherlands for decades, alongside Maria Austria.


Primary bibliography

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images in:

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Herman Heijermans, De wijze kater. Boosaardig sprookje in drie bedrijven, Antwerpen (De Sikkel) 1969, tegenover p. 17,48-49,64-65.

Toneel Teatraal 91 (1970) 1, p. 27, 30, 32-34, 36.

G.J. de Voogd (samenstelling), Facetten van vijftig jaar Nederlands toneel 1920-1970, Amsterdam (Moussault) 1970, p. 98, 139, 141-142, 148-151, 158-160, 175, 189-192, 194, 209, 211 .

Catalogus tent. Publiphot/70. Eerste tentoonstelling van Nederlandse publiciteitsfotografie, Amsterdam (Arti et Amicitiae) 1970.

Dick Boer, Paul Heyse Sr. en L. Roosens (hoofdred.), Focus Elsevier Foto- en Filmencyclopedie, Amsterdam/Brussel (Focus Elsevier) 1971, 3de geh. herz. druk, p. 308, 362, 391, 457-459, 553-554. 573.

V.G.M. Marijnen (woord vooraf), 25 Jaar Haagse comedie. Jubileum-uitgave 1947-1972, Den Haag/Rotterdam (Nijgh & Van Ditmar) 1972, p. 62-64, 66-71,73-83,85-97,99-100.

Kijk, Simon Carmiggelt. De schrijver in beeld, Amsterdam (De Arbeiderspers) 1973, p. 89, 94-95, 112.

Catalogus tent. 400 Jaar toneel in Groningen, Groningen (Groninger Museum) 1973.

Ton van Duinhoven, Dat ben ik geloof ik zelf, Bussum (Centripress) 1973.

Wim lbo, Cabaret… wat is dat eigenlijk?, Amsterdam (Meulenhoff Educatief) 1974, p. 81-82 (serie: Het spel en de knikkers. Profiel 8).

Gene Ruys (samenstelling), Cor Ruys, acteur, regisseur, toneelleider, Amsterdam/Zutphen (Toneelmuseum/ Walburg Pers) 1974, afb. 13-14.

Joop Bromet, Conny Stuart een theaterleven, Utrecht/Antwerpen (Bruna & Zoon) 1975.

Jos Huygen (red.) en Rigo Kalkhoven (tekst), De wereld van Wim Sonneveld, Amsterdam (Amsterdam Boek) 1975.

Henk van der Meyden, De mens Wim Sonneveld, Amsterdam (Teleboek) 1975, p. 56-57, 63, 69, 71-72, 80-82, 85, 92-95, 103, 105, 108-109, 149, 151 (serie: Privé Document).

Wim lbo, 40 Jaar Wim Kan met Corry aan zijn zijde, Amsterdam (De Bezige Bij) 1976.

Han Peekel, 90 Jaar Carré, Bussum (Unieboek/De Gooise Uitgeverij) 1977.

Albert Mol, Het doek viel te vroeg, Amsterdam (Tiebosch) 1977.

Haagse Post (9 juli 1977) 27, p. 29, 31, 33.

Agenda Antiekbeurs Delft, 1978.

W.A. Braasem, Paul Brinkman en Hein Kohn, Naïeve schilders zien ons land, Amsterdam (Ploegsma) 1978.

Tony van Verre, Tony van Verre ontmoette Ko van Dijk, Bussum (Unieboek/De Gooise Uitgeverij) 1978, p. 42, 52, 82, 116.

Agenda Antiekbeurs Delft, 1979.

Eli Asser, De geschiedenis van Potasch & Perlemoer, Naarden (Strengholt Televideo) 1980, p. 42, 59, 93, 121.

Wim lbo, brieven aan jou. Een bundel herinneringen, Amsterdam/Antwerpen (Kosmos) 1980.

P. Heyse Sr., JJ. van der Schans en S. Vermeent (hoofd- en eindred.), Focus Elsevier Foto en Filmencyclopedie, Amsterdam/Brussel (Focus/Elsevier) 1981, geh. herz., uitgebreide druk in full-color, p. 441, 581-582, 691.

Keso Dekker, Hans van Manen + modern ballet in Nederland, Amsterdam (Bert Bakker) 1981, p. 23-24.

Eva van Schaik, Op gespannen voet. Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse theaterdans vanaf 1900, Haarlem (De Haan) 1981, p. 85, 100, 102.

Evert Werkman, Jac.G. Constant, Tien jaren te kijk. Hoogtepunten uit onze vaderlandse persfotografie, Amsterdam (Elsevier) 1982, p. 26.

Wim lbo, En nu de moraal… Geschiedenis van het Nederlands cabaret 1936-1981, Alphen aan den Rijn (Sijthoff) 1982, p. 33,55,59, 90, 117, 120, 123, 142.

Annie M.G. Schmidt, Oja… Herinneringen aan zes Schmidt/ Bannink musicals, Weesp (Van Holkema & Warendorf/Unieboek 1983.

Jan Plekker, Albert van Dalsum. Man van het toneel. Een theaterdocumentaire, Zutphen (De Walburg Pers) 1983, p. 223, 225-226, 228-229, 233-234, 241.

Max Frisch, Herr Biedermann und die Brandstifter, Amsterdam (Meulenhoff Educatief) 1984, 4de druk, p. 7, 48.

Hubert Janssen, Wim Sonneveld opnieuw nabij, Baarn (Fontijn), 1984.

Kees Fens en Reinold Kuipers, Kijk, Annie M.G.Schmidt. De schrijfster in beeld, Amsterdam (Querido in samenwerking met Nederland Theater Instituut) 1984, afb. 47, 62-63, 97, 154-157, 208.

Pierre H. Dubois, Kaleidoscopie van een acteur. Profielen van Paul Steenbergen, Den Haag (Nijgh & Van Ditmar) 1985, p. 107-108, 124,147, 192.

Annemarie Oster, Verder is er niet zoveel. Herinneringen aan mijn moeder, Amsterdam/Brussel (Thomas Rap) 1985, p. 40, 54, 66, 72, 74, 82, 93, 144, 205.

André Rutten, Haagse Comedie 40 jaar, Den Haag (Haagse Comedie/BZZTOH) 1987, afb. 15, 23-27, 29-32, 34-35, 37-40, 42-44, 46-48, 53, 106, 118, 121, 130, 132-133, 138.

B. Hunningher, Shakespeare en het theater van zijn tijd, Amsterdam (International Theatre Bookshop) 1987, p. 53, 56, 93, 149, 151.

Carel Alphenaar en Helen de Zwart, 37 Jaar toneelgroep Centrum 1950-1987, Amsterdam (International Theatre Bookshop) 1987.

Phyllis Hartnoll, Geschiedenis van het theater, Amsterdam (International Theatre Bookshop) 1987, p. 292.

Jacques Klöters, 100 Jaar amusement in Nederland, Den Haag (Staatsuitgeverij) 1987, p. 263, 274, 297.

Reginald Rose, Twelve angry men. A play in three acts, Amsterdam (Meulenhoff Educatief) 1987, 5de druk, omslag, p. 35,47, 55.

Robert H. Leek, Shakespeare in Nederland, Zutphen (Walburg Pers) 1988, p. 179, 213, 218, 224, 227, 233, 237, 269, 272.

Ton Verbeten, Toneelgroep Theater. 35 Jaar wachten op Godot, Arnhem (Toneelgroep Theater) 1988, afb. 1-2, 141, 143-145, 149.

Marja van Tienhoven (eindred.), 20 jaar Globe, Eindhoven (Stichting Het Zuidelijk Toneel) 1988, p. 13-15, 18.

Molière, Le bourgeois gentilhomme, Amsterdam (Meulenhoff Educatief) 1989, 11de druk, omslag, p. 31, 81, 99.

Erica Neggers-Goudsmit, Hein Grünhagen en Jan Melis (eindred.), 25 Jaar schouwburg Eindhoven, Eindhoven (Stichting Stadsschouwburg) 1989, p. 13.

Yolande Melsert, Een vroom bedrog. Het karakteristieke in het acteren van Siem Vroom, Amsterdam (Nederlands Theater Instituut) 1990, p. 9.

René Kok, Erik Somers (red. en samenstelling), De Oorlog na de oorlog, Zwolle (Waanders) 1991, p. 29 (serie: Documentaire Nederland en de Tweede Wereldoorlog, 53).

Annemarie Oster, Kouwe wind, Ank, Amsterdam (De Arbeiderspers) 1991, 3de druk, p. 23, 38, 51, 63, 69-70, 78, 88, 136, 194.

Mariëtte Haarsma, Enna Staal en Murk Salverda, De onderkant van het tapijt/ Harry Mulisch en zijn oeuvre, Amsterdam/Den Haag (De Bezige Bij/ Nederlands Letterkundig Museum) 1992, p. 28 (serie: Schrijversprentenboek).

René Kok, Herman Selier en Erik Somers, Fotografie in bezettingstijd. Geschiedenis en beeldvorming, Amsterdam/Zwolle (Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie/Waanders) 1993, omslag, p. 105.

Cor Lemaire (samenstelling), De muze met de scherpe tong, Amsterdam (Heynis) z.j., tegenover p. 48, tegenover p. 129.

B. Hunningher (inl.), Afscheid van Albert van Dalsum, Den Haag (De Haagse Comedie) z.j., afb. 23-27.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Die Physiker, Amsterdam (Meulenhoff Educatief) z.j., omslag, p. 22, 28, 31, 46.


in Nederlands Theater Jaarboek:

1 (1951-1952).

2 (1952-1953). p. 22-26, 28-29, 32-37, 40-43,46-47,54-58.

3 (1953-1954). p. 29-43,46-51, 53, 63, 74-75.

4 (1954-1955). p. 33-49. 52, 54-58, 61-63, 76-77.

5 (1955-1956), omslag, p. 33, 35-37, 39-40, 42-47, 49-52, 54-59, 68.

6 (1956-1957), p. 36-39,41-44,48-54, 56-59, 62.

7 (1957-1958), omslag, p. 34-42, 44-45, 47, 49, 50-51.

8 (1958-1959), omslag, p. 35-37, 39-43, 45-59, 61, 80.

9 (1959-1960), omslag, p. 42-45,48-50, 52, 55, 57, 59-60, 62-66, 70, 72, 86.

10 (1960-1961), omslag, p. 45, 49-50, 56-58, 60-62, 64-65, 67.

11 (1961-1962), omslag, p. 48, 51, 54, 57-58, 61, 63, 65-69, 71-72, 85.

12 (1962-1963), omslag, p. 47-53, 57, 59-61, 64-68, 70-74, 76-78.

13 (1963-1964), p. 42-43, 45-46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56-59, 63, 65-66, 69-70, 73-78.

14 (1964-1965), p. 45-48, 51-53, 55, 58, 60, 66-67, 69-73, 75-79, 81-82, 84.

15 (1965-1966), p. 46-47, 50, 53-54, 57-59, 62-64, 66-70, 74-75, 78-79.

16 (1966-1967), p. 52, 57, 61, 63-64, 66, 68, 77-83.

17 (1967-1968), omslag, p. 51-52, 58, 63-64,67,71-72,74,77.

18 (1968-1969), p. 49, 51, 59, 67, 69, 74,80,87-88.

19 (1969-1970), p. 68, 76-77, 80, 90.

20 (1970-1971), omslag, p. 63, 65, 76, 94, 142-143.


in Nederlands Theater en Televisie Jaarboek:

21 (1971-1972), p. 53,55,64, 66-69, 71.74.77.

22 (1972-1973, omslag, p. 63-65, 73, 82-85, 92.

23 (1973-!974), p. 54-55, 71-72,

26 (1976-1977), p. 56.

27 (1977-1978), p. 63,66, 98-99, 103, 120.

28 (1978-1979), p. 47-48, 53, 55, 136.

29 (1979-1980), p. 60, 62, 94.

30 (1980-1981), p. 52.


in Nederlands Theaterjaarboek.

32 (1982-1983), p. 39.

36 (1986-1987), Toneel Teatraal 108 (oktober 1987) 8, p. 16-17.

37 (1987-1988), Toneel Teatraal 109 (oktober 1988) 8, p. 38, 109.

39 (1989-1990), Toneel Teatraal 111 (oktober 1990) 8, p. 143.

Secondary bibliography

Auteur onbekend, Elfde Fotosalon in Arti. Veel goed werk in romantische stijl, in Algemeen Handelsblad 24 december 1949.

Auteur onbekend, Amateurfotografen houden hun elfde Kerstsalon, in Het Parool 24 december 1949.

Auteur onbekend, Fotokerstsalon in Arti, in De Volkskrant 22 december 1950.

J.J. Hens, Op de snijtafel. Tegenlicht, in Foto 6 (januari 1951) 1, p. 7-11.

J.J. Hens, Op de snijtafel, in Foto 7 (december 1952) 12, p. 324-330.

Catalogus tent. Photo + Scène. Tweede Internationale Tentoonstelling voor Theater-Fotografie, Wiesbaden (Stedelijk Museum) 1953.

Kronkel, Willem, in Het Parool 25 februari 1964.

Kronkel, Foto, in Het Parool 9 maart 1964.

Els Barents (red.), Fotografie in Nederland 1940-1975, Den Haag (Staatsuitgeverij) 1978, losse biografie.

Marleen Kox, Verslag onderzoek fotoarchieven. (Samengesteld in opdracht van de Stichting Nederlands Foto-Archief), Amsterdam, juli 1981.

Arjen Ribbens, Het succes van Art Unlimited, in Trouw 31 oktober 1987.

Arjen Ribbens, De Maskers van Eugène Brands, in Trouw 25 maart 1989, p. 27.

Arjen Ribbens, De bevrijding van Frits Lemaire, in Trouw 6 mei 1989, p. 29.

Flip Bool en Veronica Hekking, De Dam 7 mei 1945. Foto’s en documenten, Leiden/Amsterdam (Primavera Pers/ Focus) 1992, p. 12, 16-17,53,75-76 (met foto’s).

Willem Ellenbroek (tekst), Lichtvissen. Eugène Brands & Frits Lemaire (portfolio met drie originele lichttekeningen van Eugène Brands, gefotografeerd door Frits Lemaire), Amsterdam (Riba Pers) 1994.


NFPV, 1950-1970.

NFK, 1951-1957.

BFN, 1970-1993.

Jury, Vijftiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV), 1953/1954.

Jury kleurendia’s, 20e Nationale Kerstsalon (AAFV), Amsterdam 1958/1959.

Jury kleurendia’s, 21e Nationale Kerstsalon (AAFV), Amsterdam 1959/1960.


1949 Bronzen BNAFV medaille, Elfde Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV), Amsterdam.

1950 Eerste prijs (klasse vakfotografen; verzilverde Foto Daguerre plaquette), wedstrijd ‘Vrije Onderwerpen’, uitgeschreven 15 december 1949 door het tijdschrift Foto.

1950 Eerste prijs (klasse vakfotografen; verzilverde Foto Daguerre plaquette), wedstrijd ‘Vrije Onderwerpen’, uitgeschreven 15 april 1950 door het tijdschrift Foto.

1950 Eervolle vermelding (klasse vakfotografen), wedstrijd ‘Vrije Onderwerpen’, uitgeschreven 15 augustus 1950 door het tijdschrift Foto.

1950 Tweede prijs (klasse vakfotografen), wedstrijd ‘Vrije Onderwerpen’, uitgeschreven 15 oktober 1950 door het tijdschrift Foto.

1950 Zilveren AAFV bokaal (‘winnaar voor het jaar 1950’) en bronzen AAFV plaquette, Twaalfde Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV), Amsterdam.

1951 Eerste prijs (klasse vakfotografen; verzilverde Foto Daguerre plaquette), wedstrijd ‘Vrije Onderwerpen’, uitgeschreven 15 december 1950 door het tijdschrift Foto.

1952 Bronzen BNAFV medaille, Veertiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV), Amsterdam.

1952 Prijs, Rollei Jubilaeums Wettbewerb.

1954 Zilveren AAFV bokaal (‘winnaar voor het jaar 1954’) en bronzen BNAFV medaille, Zestiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV), Amsterdam.

1955 Bronzen BNAFV medaille, Zeventiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV), Amsterdam.

1957 Diploma en bronzen AAFV plaquette, 19e Nationale Kerstsalon (AAFV), Amsterdam.


1945 (g) Amsterdam, Atelier Marius Meijboom, De Ondergedoken Camera.

1949/1950 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Elfde Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1950 (g) Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Vakfotografie 1950.

1950/1951 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Twaalfde Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1952 (g) Luzern, Kunsthaus, Welt-Ausstellung der Photographie.

1952 (g) Utrecht, Kunst en Ambacht (rondreizende tentoonstelling).

1952/1953 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Veertiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1953 (g) Wiesbaden, Stedelijk Museum, Photo + Scène. Tweede Internationale Tentoonstelling voor Theater-Fotografie (rondreizende tentoonstelling).

1953/1954 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Vijftiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1954 (e) Den Haag, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Het Theater (tentoonstelling ter gelegenheid van het 150-jarig bestaan van de Koninklijke Schouwburg).

1954/1955 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Zestiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1955/1956 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Zeventiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1956/1957 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Achttiende Nationale Kerstsalon van Fotografische Kunst (AAFV).

1957/1958 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, 19e Nationale Kerstsalon (AAFV).

1959/1960 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, 21e Nationale Kerstsalon (AAFV).

1960 (g) Heerlen, Raadhuis Heerlen, 21e Nationale Kerstsalon (AAFV).

1961 (e) Amsterdam, Bellevue, (kleurenfoto’s van scènes uit Nederlandse toneelstukken).

1961/1962 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, 23e Nationale Foto Tentoonstelling (Kerstsalon) (AAFV) (rondreizende tentoonstelling).

1963 (e) Amsterdam, De Brakke Grond.

1964/1965 (g) Amsterdam, Academie van de Bouwkunst, 25e Kerstsalon. Nationale Foto Tentoonstelling (AAFV).

1969 (g) Amsterdam, Toneelmuseum, Theater in blik. Een tentoonstelling van theaterfotografie.

1969 (g) Viersen, Festhalle Viersen, Theater im Bild. Niederlaendische Theaterfotografen der Gegenwart.

1970 (g) Amsterdam, Arti et Amicitiae, Publiphot/70. Eerste tentoonstelling van Nederlandse publiciteitsfotografie (Nederlandse Vereniging van Vakfotografen).

1978/1979 (g) Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Fotografie in Nederland 1940-1975.

1994 (e) Amsterdam, Riba Pers (Spuistraat 1 20), Lichtvissen. Eugène Brands & Frits Lemaire.


(Frits Lemaire camera-assistent/cameraman)

1939 Lichtende verten.

1941 Droomlandmelodie.

1942 Zeven jongens en een oude schuit.

1953 Bruin goud.

1953 Haven zonder kranen (overschot van Bruin goud).

1954 De zekere weg.

1959 Gisteren komt nooit weerom.

1962 Droom zonder einde.


Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief.

Amsterdam, Frits Lemaire, mondelinge en schriftelijke informatie.

Amsterdam, Maria Austria Instituut, bibliotheek (met dank aan Elkie Jordan).

Amsterdam, Nederlands Filmmuseum.

Den Haag, Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, film- en fotoarchief.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet, bibliotheek en documentatiebestand.


Amsterdam, Maria Austria Instituut.

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum.

Amsterdam, Theater Instituut Nederland.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet van de Rijksuniversiteit Leiden.