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Belgium To France: 'You Robbed Our Rubens'

Local officials in western Belgium are demanding that France return an 18th century work by Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens stolen by French troops. It may be just the beginning of efforts to recoup art works that were booty for imperialist French armies

Detail of
Detail of
Jean-Pierre Stroobants

BRUSSELS – A group of Belgian politicians have an outstanding issue they want to resolve with a neighbor: the recovery of a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, that was stolen by French troops in western Belgium ... in 1794. The Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes, which currently holds "The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus," was completely taken aback by the demand from officials in French-speaking Belgium. "We know the history of this work. We also lend it to other museums on a regular basis, but at no time have we heard of a claim for restitution," said a museum spokesman.

The painting was part of a series, together with the "The Issue of Souls in Purgatory," commissioned by Maximilien Villain, the Bishop of the Belgium town of Tournai. Delivered in 1635 and paid for by the inhabitants of the city, the two paintings were to form a composition around the altar. Stolen during the French occupation, "The Issue" was then sent to Nantes by command of French Emperor Napoleon. As for the other part of the diptych, it was returned to Ghent by mistake, before heading back to Tournai.

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Ideas

The Trauma Of War, A Poisoned Guide For Parenting

As a psychoanalyst, Wolfgang Schmidbauer has researched the psychological effects of war on children — and in the process, also examined his own post-War childhood in Germany. In this article, he warns that parents tend to use their experiences of suffering as a method of education, with serious consequences.

Parents traumatized by war make their own experiences of suffering a core principle of education.

Wolfgang Schmidbauer*

As a young married civilian, British poet Robert Graves describes his mental state after World War I. "Shells used to come bursting on my bed at midnight, even though Nancy shared it with me," he wrote in Goodbye to All That, his wartime biography. "Strangers in daytime would assume the faces of friends who had been killed."

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