Cartoonist Peter van Straaten, acute observer of Dutch life, dies aged 81

Cartoonist Peter van Straaten died on December 9, 2016.
Photo: Bob Bronshoff/ Hollands Hoogte

Peter van Straaten, one of the Netherland’s best-loved cartoonists, has died at the age of 81.

Van Straaten, who had been ill for some time, was a sharp observer of the Dutch mores, both political and social. Whether it was arty women, inept lovers, wine bores or relationship problems, Van Straaten’s cartoons were always close to the bone.

His long-running series Father and Son which he did for newspaper Het Parool sketched the confrontations between an irascible conservative father and his layabout lefty son, and typified the Dutch political climate of the seventies.

Other work by Peter van Straaten include his political cartoons for left-wing magazine Vrij Nederland, which later became the platform for his Agnes stories, about a single mother whose disorganised and white wine-soaked life he said mirrored his own.

Van Straaten was born in Arnhem in 1935 as the son of an architect. His artistic talent surfaced early. At six he drew his first cartoon. After graduating from the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 1958 he started to do cartoons for the Parool and courtroom sketches.

Van Straaten died practically in harness, working for the Parool until 2012 and for Vrij Nederland until 2014. He drew his final cartoon, in his characteristic scratchy pen and ink style, in hospital: a picture of a young couple looking out over the sea with the caption: That’s where England used to be’.

‘I was never one for a raised fist,’ he said about his work. ‘I wanted to show people up but it had to be funny.’

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