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From Japan to Flanders

Marie-Louise cannot let go of the images of child labor and draft dogs. In Italy she writes down her frustrations in 'A dog of Flanders'. The novella is published in 1872. The story becomes an incredible success. It finds its way to Japan and Korea through the American publishers.
The book will be compulsory reading for children. The characters are filmed and drawn countless times in the typical Japanese animation films.

In the eighties of the last century, Antwerp city guides are confronted with Japanese tourists in search of Rubens and the traces of Nello and Patrasche. In this way 'A dog of Flanders' finally reaches the region where the writer found her inspiration in the nineteenth century.


Ouida situated the life of Nello and Patrasche in a village near a 'canal' near Antwerp. A red mill loomed over the landscape.

And although there is no geographic or historical evidence for it, one quickly arrives at Hoboken. In 1872 the district was a rural village along the Scheldt, with a large mill and within walking distance of Antwerp.

In 1985 'Het mendedinges', a comic strip from the series 'Suske en Wiske', was published.

In it, Paul Geerts lets Nello and Patrasche roam through Hoboken and Antwerp with their milk cart.

In the same year, a statue of the two friends is erected in Hoboken. The design is by Paul Geerts, the execution by Yvonne Bastiaens. And that's not all. The district is permeated by Nello and Patrasche. Hoboken cherishes the silhouette of the boy and his dog. Local Nello and Patrasche specialties are developed such as pralines, beer, cheese, gin and pate.

Beeld Nello en Patrasche in Hoboken

In 2016, a marble statue will be placed on the Antwerp Handschoenmarkt. Ghent artist Batist Vermeulen lets Nello and Patrasche sleep in front of the cathedral.

And so the circle is complete.  The boy and his dog live in Hoboken and sleep forever in Antwerp.

'A dog of Flanders, an unprecedented view of Flanders'
Didier Volckaert, An Van Dienderen and others
ISBN 978 90 209 88581

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