In Memoriam Claire Lemoine-Isabeau (1927 - 2016)
Born near Mons in 1931, she read history of Arts at the ULB (Free University of Brussels). Her first employments were in this domain, among them at the City Museum of Brussels, and so were her first publications. Getting to know Antoine De Smet, then Head of the Map Room of the Royal Library, she fell under the spell of old maps and their history. This became her field of research and she grew to be the most important author for the history of cartography in Belgium. She got her PhD, summa cum laudae, in 1984 with a voluminous thesis on military cartography in the South Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège in the 17th and 18th centuries. As Claire was an expert draughtswoman, she drawn several explanatory maps to the text. This work, somewhat simplified, became the first book of her trilogy on the history of military cartography, all published between 1984 and 1997 by the Royal Army Museum.
They cover: the service and the cartography in the South Netherlands, the cartography of the Belgian territory between 1780 and 1830, the map of Belgium and the Military Cartographic Institute. These much consulted works were not her only publications.
In collaboration, she wrote among others about Comines-Warneton, the fortifications of Mons, Belgian cartography in Spanish collections and several articles. Her contribution to the 2007 exhibition and book devoted to 'Images de Mons en Hainaut' were reviewed in BIMCC Newsletter No 27. Claire participated in a number of events of this Circle, in particular in the excursions to Bitburg (2005) and Middelburg (2010).
Claire’s keen intelligence, her capacity for pinpointing documents in archives gave birth to books that are a great help for the history of cartography. We are in debt to her for her pains-taking research and publications.
She will be sorely missed by her numerous friends. By Lisette Danckaert