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Peinture La Civilisation au Congo
Choisi par Philip Benson
Painting La Civilisation au Congo
Painting La Civilisation au Congo
The canvas Civilization in Congo from 1884 openly criticizes the excesses of the regime. The painter, the Belgian Edouard Manduau, was inspired by a punishment that he had witnessed in Leopoldville. The canvas shows that Leopold II’s rule was met with opposition from the outset. 
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I love museums for the mysteries they provide the viewer. A case in point is this watercolor. I was intrigued by the caption and the artist. I was prompted to investigate Edouard Manduau and his intriguing life. But I also came to the conclusion that the title and attribution were wrong! The artist was James Thiriar and had nothing to do with colonial excesses but rather the Ruwenzori Mountains. But I did learn that there were some Belgians who were appalled by the conditions in Leopold's colony very early on (1885) and spoke out against them.

— Philip Benson