Facebook bans Flemish paintings because of nudity

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A Rubens painting on display in a Flanders museumImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many of the works by Rubens displayed in museums across northern Flanders feature nude women and cherubs

The Flemish tourist board has issued a complaint to social media network Facebook, after it removed a number of posts featuring paintings by Flemish artists for nudity, it’s reported.

According to Belgium’s VRT News Flemish-language public broadcaster, a number of social media posts have recently been taken down that feature paintings by artist Peter Paul Rubens.

Rubens (1577-1640) was one of the most influential artists of the 17th century, and was famous for his Baroque paintings, many featuring nudes and cherubs.

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Toerisme Vlaanderen says that it has issued an open letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, saying: «We have noticed that Facebook consistently rejects works of art by our beloved Peter Paul Rubens.

«Even though we secretly have to laugh about it, your cultural censorship is making life rather difficult for us.»

Playful protest?

Peter De Wilde, the CEO of Visit Flanders, tells VRT News: «Most Flemish museums have signed the letter».

But The Brussels Times notes that it may be a «playful protest» to attract tourists to exhibitions hosted by the Visit Flanders agency.

A number of «Paintings by Flemish Masters» exhibitions are currently underway at a number of Visit Flanders locations in northern Belgium.

The Brussels Times notes that the Flemish Office has a 2018-2020 cultural plan to promote the works of Rubens, as well as other 15th-17th century Flemish painters including Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Jan van Eyck.

Image copyright Hulton Fine Art Collection
Image caption Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was famous for his 17th century baroque paintings

Reporting by Kerry Allen

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