2004
Volume 123, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

Scheldt is frequently quoted in illustrated travel guides of the first half of the nineteenth century. The economic greatness of Antwerp as a sixteenth-century metropolis is a reference point for comparison with the image of nineteenth-century Antwerp. The empty city of the late eighteenth century still reflects the earlier splendour. Under the Napoleontic regime and the United Kingdom of the Netherlands the temporary opening of the Scheldt and the beginning of the reconstruction of the port give rise to a trading city represented as having a prosperous future. Landscape paintings and (litho)graphic albums of city views tell the same story. Historical paintings stage with great theatricality the sixteenth-century drama of the Fall of Antwerp. Focus can change, depending on the political context (French, (Pan)-Netherlandic, or Belgian). The memory of economic decline after the fall of the city is linked to the glorification of the Antwerp school of painting. Rubens and the Scheldt become intertwined. Besides, in paintings and murals painters recover Antwerp’s image as a prosperous sixteenthcentury trading metropolis. The opening of the Scheldt in 1863, the modernization of the port infrastructure, and the economic revival are the basis for an optimistic image of Antwerp as one of the greatest ports in the world.

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2010-11-01
2022-11-30
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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