The novel “The Dog of Flanders” was written by Ouida (pseudonym of English author Marie Louise de la Ramée) in 1872. It focused on the lives of Nello, an orphan boy who aspired to be a painter, and his dog Patrasche.
The story is not very famous in Belgium despite being set in Antwerp. However, it was a great success in Japan, Korea and the Philippines. This popularity stemmed from a anime television series created during the 1970s that featured the adventures of the boy and his dog.
The climactic scene of “The Dog of Flanders” features a desperate Nello, who after being unjustly accused of causing a fire in his town, he goes to the cathedral of Antwerp to try to see the paintings of “The elevation of the Cross” and “The descent of Christ” of his idol Rubens.
However, access to see the paintings is paid and Nello had no money. On Christmas Eve, Nello and her dog stayed in the cathedral when they found the doors open.. The next morning, the boy and his dog are discovered frozenlifeless, under the painting of your favorite artist.
This tragic ending inspired more than a few fans to visit Antwerp, however, there was nothing dedicated to history in the countryas most were unaware of its international popularity.
During the 1980s, Antwerp finally introduced a small statue of a boy and his dog to Hoboken., a suburb of Antwerp where the novel is believed to have taken place. Toyota also donated a commemorative plaque that was placed in front of the Antwerp Cathedral.
Later, the plate was replaced by a marble statue made by Batist Vermeulen, depicting Nello’s last moments with Patrasche, covered by a cobblestone blanket, forever together.