The Picture War in Vienna and Paris, 1919

J.B. Donnelly looks at the many pictures carried off from Vienna by the victorious Italians, including the magnificent Madonna of the Orange Grove by Cima da Conegliano.

In addition to the provinces, fleets and gold which the Paris Treaties of 1919 took from Germany and Austria, the losers of the Great War were required to give up such belongings as young, healthy milking-cows and objects of historical and artistic value. The surrender of classic works of art to the Allied countries where they had been created, an application of the Wilsonian principle of self-determination which exempted the victors' collections, hurt Austria more than Germany both psychologically and materially. For Austria was forced by her former subordinate, Italy, to play out an early post-imperial drama, in which the liberal caretakers of Vienna were roughly penalised for the sins of empire in the name of historical justice.

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