The Dutch artist Joris Johannes Christiaan Lebeau, the fourth child of a poor, working-class family that held socialist convictions, was born in Amsterdam. His father’s alcoholism made such a profound impression that he remained a teetotal, vegetarian non-smoker until his death; he also apparently refrained from drinking tea and coffee. Lebeau described himself as a ‘religious anarcho-communist’, with his religious outlook on the world rooted in theosophy, not Christian anarchy. On account of both his advocacy of free speech under any circumstances and his ‘illegal’ activities saving those being hounded by the National Socialists, he was transported in May 1944 to the Dachau concentration camp, where he died of typhus at the end of April 1945. He was married four times and had one daughter.
Lebeau counts among the most versatile artists of his time. The Drents Museum in Assen (Drenthe province, the Netherlands) held a retrospective dedicated to him in 1987, and numerous works by him may be found in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands ‑ at the British Museum (London); the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) in Eindhoven (Noord-Brabant province); and the Glasmuseum (Glass Museum) in Leerdam (Zuid-Holland province). Between 1892 and 1898, Lebeau studied drawing at the Amsterdamse Kunstnijverheid Tekenschool (Amsterdam Applied Arts Drawing School) and the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijveheid (National School for Applied Arts). He designed textiles, glassware, pottery, carpets, stamps, book bindings, and set designs for the theatre, as well as producing sculptures and wood carvings. He also pursued a teaching career at applied arts institutions in Amsterdam and Haarlem. At the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, he introduced the technique of batik, which was almost completely unknown in Europe at the time.