After the February Strike of 1941, in Amsterdam,the sculptor and draftsman Cor van Teeseling joined a Resistance group that printed and distributed the illegal Communist newspaper De Waarheid (Lit. The Truth).
Six months later, the Germans arrested him. On 10 November 1941, the death sentence was pronounced against him.
While awaiting execution Van Teeseling was first placed in solitary confinement in cell B-1-1 of Amsterdam’s Weteringschans Prison: the death cell.
But he received permission to draw. Until being moved to the Wehrmacht Military Prison in Utrecht in 1942, he made more than 150 self-portraits that he signed and dated. He also included his cell number.
While imprisoned in Utrecht, he only drew now and again: primarily portraits of the prison guards. On 24 November 1942 his wife received a message that Cor van Teeseling had been executed five days earlier near the Dutch town of Soesterberg, a few days after his twenty-seventh birthday.
Shortly after his death his drawings were seen as a reflection of the human drama in WWII. Van Teeseling self saw the drawings as a way for his wife to earn a potential income.