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The return of treasures after the commander’s defeat set a model for museums today
The spoils of war were positively magnificent. When Napoleon Bonaparte led his army across the Alps, he ordered the Italian states he conquered to hand over artworks that were the pride of the peninsula. The Vatican was emptied of the Laocoon, a masterpiece of ancient Greek sculpture, and Venice was stripped of Veronese’s 1563 painting The Wedding Feast at Cana.