De fotocollectie André Cauvin

The photography collection of André Cauvin

  • Access and consultation : The André Cauvin collection is available via Pallas with the key word « archives Cauvin » in the search engine. Choose the option « Photothèque » in the right column. Select the different folders and subfolders by clicking on « visualiser document(s) ». You can then have a access to the digital photos.
  • Reproduction : The rights of André Cauvin's photographic archives belong to his successors. For any reproduction request by the CegeSoma teams, practical information is available here.

Collection description :

The CegeSoma acquired the Fonds André Cauvin in 2005. It consists of archive material as well as many negatives (7000) and photographs (almost 10,000) which bear witness to the various activities of the Belgian film-maker during his life (1907-2004).

André Cauvin was born in Ixelles on February 12, 1907. At the time of the German invasion in 1914, his family sought refuge in Great Britain where he spent several years in a boarding school in Uppingham. In 1924, after his return to Belgium, he enrolled in the Université Libre de Bruxelles where he studied law as well as in art history and wrote film reviews for student newspapers and the local press.

The first two films directed by Cauvin are Memling, peintre de la Vierge (1938) and L’Agneau mystique (1939). These two short films on art were presented at the International Exhibition of 1939 in New York and L’Agneau Mystique won an award at the Festival of Venice. The fame that he earned through his films is also the reason why he was chosen by the Colonial office to direct Congo, terre d’eaux vives (1939) for the International Exposition in Liège in 1939.

In 1940, Cauvin joined the Resistance, but following denunciations, he had to flee to London. Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian foreign minister, entrusted him to shoot a film about the colonial war effort: Congo (1942). After his return to Belgium, he was employed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to direct documentaries.

In the Congo, Cauvin directed Équateur aux cents visages (1948), Bongolo (1951) and Monganga (1957), but his best-known film is Bwana Kitoko, dedicated to King Baudouin’s trip to the colonies in 1955. For the Brussels World Fair of 1958, he directed Le chant du voyageur solitaire, his last short film dedicated to Congo, then ended his film career following the independence of the country. He died on April 2, 2004.

André Cauvin left behind a wide-ranging archival collection of his work in the Congo, his travels (to Indonesia, Thailand, Lebanon, Pakistan, India, China, Japan, Palestine, Egypt, Austria), his activities as a resistance fighter, his career as a lawyer, and his various encounters with significant historical figures (correspondence with Paul-Henri Spaak, minister Antoine Delfosse, George Theunis, Count Vander Straeten). There are also diaries, diverse notes, press clippings, and numerous negatives and photographs.

André Cauvin’s photographic archives have been fully digitalized by the CegeSoma and are accessible online through its image database Pallas. The originals were returned to his family.

For more information :

  • "André Cauvin", in Dictionnaire biographique des Belges d'outre-mer, Bruxelles, Académie royale des sciences d'outre-mer, 2013.
  • "Cauvin, André", in Nouvelle biographie nationale, t. 10, Bruxelles, 2010, p. 78-80.
  • F. Gillet, "André Cauvin, gros plan sur deux décennies de carrière cinématographique en Afrique centrale", in Patricia Van Schuylenbergh & Mathieu Zana Aziza Etambala (dir.), Le patrimoine filmé d'Afrique centrale-2. Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, 1912-1960, Tervuren, Musée royal d'Afrique centrale, 2010.
  • F. Gillet, "André Cauvin, histoire d'une passion ambiguë pour l'Afrique", in Congo belge filmé par Gérard De Boe, André Cauvin & Ernest Genval, livret-DVD édité par la Cinémathèque royale en collaboration avec le MRAC, le CEGES et la VRT, Bruxelles, 2010, p. 58-67.
  • F. Gillet, La Mission Cauvin ou la propagande coloniale du gouvernement belge aux Etats-Unis pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, dans Les cahiers d’histoire du Temps présent, n° 15-16, 2005, p. 357-383
  • R. Michelems, André Cauvin, dans J. Aubenas (dir.), Dictionnaire du documentaire, Bruxelles, 1999.