It is not uncommon today to question the notions of secularisation and decontextualisation of works of art that presided over the creation of modern museums in the second half of the 18th century. Hence the risk of wanting to rewrite our past by reconsidering the transfers of heritage that have always marked history. The most revealing case is undoubtedly that of the French revolutionary seizures, at a crucial time for the awakening of heritage awareness. Even today, passions remain high in certain regions that were once stripped of many masterpieces. However, it would be simplistic to look at the question of these transfers of heritage at the end of the 18th century solely from the angle of spoliations, as this would be to forget the extent to which the appropriation of cultural works by the French nation was part of a universal ambition to liberate and promote art for the education of all citizens.
This book, which is the result of a colloquium organised by KIK-IRPA following its scientific inventory of the paintings and sculptures seized by the French revolutionaries in the Austrian Netherlands and the episcopal principality of Liège, re-evaluate in their own way the historical, political and cultural circumstances of the seizure of works of art, archives and libraries in various European countries, as well as their repercussions.