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Group portraits with national heroes: the pantheon as an historical genre in nineteenth-century Belgium

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Abstract:

After the Revolution of 1830, the new Belgian nation-state was in a patriotic mood. It celebrated its national glory in pantheons: imaginary temples in which the heroes from the national past were represented and accumulated. These pantheons were almost omnipresent in the public spaces of the kingdom. They familiarised the Belgians with their heroic 'forefathers' and with their legacy. The meaning and message of the pantheons were easily accessible. The sculpted, painted and written specimens of the genre could adopt various forms and composed according to different schemes. By the end of the nineteenth century, the pantheon had lost its prestige. Only within the framework of the debate on the 'layered' Belgian nationality, did a certain revival occur. As an expression of the historical culture, it had become marginal.

Keywords: Belgium; Historical culture; Historiography; National heroes; Nineteenth century; Romanticism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1460894042000248387

Affiliations: University of Leuven Belgium

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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