Maison Horta & Art Nouveau, Brussels
Built for the chemistry magnate Armand Solvay (1865-1930), this large townhouse is considered Victor Horta’s masterpiece. Solvay granted Horta unlimited creative freedom and an unrestricted budget to complete the project as a home for his new bride. It has been perfectly maintained since it was built between 1894 and 1898.
Located on fashionable Avenue Louise, the townhouse has undergone a restoration. Facing southeast, this Art Nouveau-styled house is listed on the World Heritage List.
Hôtel Tassel was constructed from 1893 to 1897; Victor Horta served as the architect. Built for the Belgian scientist and professor Edmond Tassel, this private home is considered to be the first Art Nouveau building in Brussels. It is Horta’s first mature work using this style. For Horta, this was his first use of stone and metal, considered, at the time, a very modern building material for domestic architecture. Another modern feature of the townhouse is the extensive use of glass. There are classical elements of the façade, such as moldings and columns. This townhouse has features that would become signature elements of Horta’s domestic architecture: an open floor plan; a use of natural light, let in by the many large windows; unifying architecture, interior decoration, and furniture.
A bay window (see photos #2& #5), extending over two stories, dominates the street-facing façade. Behind the mezzanine-level windows Tassel’s smoking room could be found. Notice the details at this level: the thin stone columns (see photos #2 & #5) with tendrils melting onto the base supporting them, as the upper column grips the iron lintel above. The exposed rivets work as part of the decorative scheme.
Located at Rue Paul-Emile Jansonstraat, 6, Hôtel Tassel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The architect Paul Hankar built his personal residence in the Bruxelles suburb of Saint-Gilles, home to many masterpieces of the Art Nouveau style, such as the Solvay House, the Hotel Tassel, Hotel Otlet. Located at Rue Defacqz, 71 the townhouse was built in 1893, the same year that Victor Horta built the Hôtel Tassel.
Hankar’s plan is traditional and the Art Nouveau elements are seen in the decorative elements, such as the sgraffito and wrought iron railings.
Marked by asymmetry, the most striking feature of the façade is the polychrome appearance, resulting from the sgraffiti and the use of materials with contrasting colors and textures: the red brick, blue stone, and the rough-hewn gray granite.
The right side of the townhouse is devoted to the entrance door topped by a small canopy and a pair of windows that light the staircase. The left side is dominated by bay windows spanning two floors; two powerful stone consoles, framing the lower window, support the bay. It is decorated with wrought iron railings that show cats playing in a setting of nasturtiums. A balcony extended by two wrought iron columns supporting the cornice tops the bay window.
Adolphe Crespin is responsible for the sgraffito. On the right of the townhouse, above the door, are a sgraffito scene with white hydrangeas and a cartouche with date of 1893 (see photo #2). Four delightful sgraffito scenes can be seen beneath the cornice: Morning (bird and horse chestnut leaves); Day (a bird and bright sunshine); Evening (a swallow); and Night (bats and stars) (see photo #3).
Rue Faider, 83 is the design work Albert Roosenboom, pupil of Victor Horta, whose influence can be seen.
Roosenboom, who usually favored the Neo-Rococo style, let his imagination run free for the ironwork of the balcony, above the bay window, and at the main door and ground floor windows. Also take note of the house gutter (see photo #4) to the left of the entry door; it is a detail that really makes a statement.
The beautiful sgraffito (see photo #2) work of this 1900 private home frames the upper-most windows. The browns of this work contrast well with the white brick. The smoothly curving structural details are made from carved stone that is set into brick walls.
Hôtel Hallet fits into the late Art Nouveau works of Victor Horta. Facing east, this private home was built between 1903 and 1905 for the lawyer Max Hallet, who had it built to receive his friends and clients in luxurious surroundings.
The all-limestone clad façade suggests Horta’s use of the classical Beaux Art style. On closer examination, the details the architect used, such as the sensuous curves, recall his earlier Art Nouveau buildings. The window surrounds and the grills over those windows give evidence of the style that made Horta famous, if it is in a more restrained application. It is a marvel of simplicity, the essence of Horta’s talent.
Maison Ciamberlani, designed by Paul Hankar (1859-1901) in 1897, was built on a double plot for the Symbolist artist, Albert Ciamberlani (1864-1956).
Facing north at Rue Defacqz, 48, off Avenue Louise, the house is best known for the enormous twin horseshoe-arched first floor windows. The exotic, colored imagery on the façade, executed in sgraffito, was designed by Ciamberlani.
I like how Mr. Hankar had his name and the date chiseled into a block of granite on the house’s façade. This is a private home and not open to the public.
Hôtel Otlet, called one of the most pleasing examples of domestic architecture in Bruxelles, was built in 1894 by architect Octave van Rysselberghe (1855-1929) and Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) designed the interior decoration.
Located at Rue de Florence, 13 on the corner with rue de Livourne, close to Avenue Louise, it was the home of Paul Marie Ghislain Otlet (1868-1944), an author, entrepreneur, lawyer and peace activist. Mr. Otlet, a native of Bruxelles, is considered the father of information science.
Today Hôtel Otlet houses a law firm and is not open to the public. That stained glass transom (see photo #4) above the entry door is stunning.
“I’d choose the plant’s stem.”
— Victor Horta (1861-1947), from his memoirs
Art Nouveau took its inspiration from nature. Flowers and plants were key to the style’s look. For Horta, however, the flower was too baroque; therefore he picked the stem to use as a starting point for his designs.
The Maison et Atelier Horta was built to fulfill the designer’s professional and family needs. Built between 1898 and 1901 on two lots in the St-Gilles section of Bruxelles. Following Horta’s divorce, first, he leased out the building for a period of time, but then resumed living there, making changes to the interior. These alterations included a terrace and a winter garden (see photo #5) and the atelier was enlarged.
The most spectacular element in the house is the stunning stained glass skylight (see photos #1 & #2) over the central marble staircase (see photo #4), developed in September 1899. Drawings for the railings (see photo #3) were completed in February of 1900. The placement of this staircase in the center of house, with the living space built around it, was quite radical and innovative at the time.
“Jean Delhaye, a kind of one-man Belgian fin de siècle society who is directing the reconstruction of the home Horta built for himself in Brussels, so that it can open next fall as a museum.”
— from ‘Architecture: Return to the Purple’ in Time Magazine’s 10.May.1968 issue
HOUSE MUSEUM As Horta’s assistant, Monsieur Delhaye was perfectly suited to undertake such a worthwhile project. The house and studio of Victor Horta, the grand master of Art Nouveau architecture, is a peaceful escape, filled with beautiful design elements to delight the eye. Horta applied for a building permit in August 1898. Work would continue through 1908. The façade, built from stone, has delicately designed metal railings (see photos #2 & #4).
I love the sinuous, organic vine-like shape of the front door handle (see photo #5) to Maison Horta.
Located in the St-Gilles (Sint-Gillis in Flemish) area of Bruxelles, Maison Horta is one of many Art Nouveau buildings found in this part of town.
Opening hours are limited, from 14:00 to 17:30, Tuesday to Sunday.
“Undoubtedly the key European Art Nouveau architect.”
— John Julius, Viscount Norwich, CVO (1929- , British historian), referring to Victor Horta
In 1902, Edouard Hannon (1853-1931), an engineer with the Solvay Corporation, bought a corner lot in the St-Gilles section of Brussels; he asked his friend, architect Jules Brunfaut (1852-1942) to design him a townhouse, where both interior and exterior would be in the Art Nouveau style.
The monumental stairwell is decorated with frescoes (see photos #1 & #2) by Paul-Albert Baudouin; the rich stained glass windows (see photo #5) were designed by Raphaël Evaldre. Occupied by the Hannon family until 1965, thereafter it was abandoned and nearly demolished. In 1976, it was declared a landmark; three years later it was bought by the city.
The center hall mosaic tile floor (see photo #4) adds to the swirling vortex motion created by the staircase.
When Hotel Hannons was completed in 1903, Art Nouveau was in its decline in Brussels, making the building a latecomer on the scene.
Hôtel Hannon, along with Maison Horta Studio Museum, are the only Art Nouveau-styled houses whose interiors can be visited. Hôtel Hannon is open all year round (except on Monday & Tuesday), Saturday & Sunday: 13:00-18:00 and Wednesday to Friday: 11:00-18:00
“The terrifying and edible beauty of Art Nouveau architecture.”
— Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
HOUSE MUSEUM Hôtel Hannon was designed in 1903 by architect Jules Brunfaut (1852-1942) at the request of his friend Edouard Hannon (1853-1931), an engineer with the Solvay Company and an amateur photographer.
One of the most striking features this mansion, located on a corner lot, is a bas-relief limestone panel (see photo #5), by Victor Rousseau, on the corner of the facade. Entitled La Fileuse this bas-relief is an allegory of the passage of time.
Currently the building is owned by the Brussels district of Saint-Gilles. Contretype Photographic Gallery is housed in Hôtel Hannon; the gallery is devoted to promoting creative photography and offers regular exhibitions.
Hôtel Hannon is open all year round (except on Monday & Tuesday), Saturday & Sunday: 13:00-18:00 and Wednesday to Friday: 11:00-18:00
In 2005, Brussels celebrates the Art Nouveau style (refer to ptitetoile's travelogue on Art Nouveau) with a few exhibitions (see other Art Nouveau tips "L'Art Nouveau au quotidien").
The Eurantica Brussels - Fine Art & Antiques Fair presents 130 antique dealers and art galleries from Europe. These exhibitors will show principal styles of collectables: furniture, paintings, sculptures, tapestries, glassware, ... some of which are from Art Nouveau style.
The theme of this year is "Light".
18 to 22 March 2005, from 12am-7pm. Entrance 10 euro.
The famous architect Victor Horta lived in his own creation in St Gilles, bordering Ixelles, and here you can see the house in full Art Noveau splendour with mirrors and rounded edges that he got building permission for in 1889. It is a gorgeous house that anyone would love to live in and if you don't believe me, just go for the virtual tour on the website - I have no good photos :( The website also give you links to other wonderful Art Noveau buildings in Brussels as well as organisations showing them, and you can read up on exactly what it was if you are not too familiar with the architecture so popular in Brussels, Vienna and other cities.
The Ultimate Hallucination is the translation of the Brasserie-Restaurant’s name you will find in the Koningstraat (or Rue Royale) # 316, close to Sint Joost ten Node.
You can just hop in for a drink or for a quick lunch during the week days.
Or obtain for a dinner at evening
More detailed info about the restaurant itself you can find in my restaurant tips.
Here I want to tell a little more about the building and interior itself as it is one of the nicest Art Nouveau brasseries in Brussels.
As the explanation is longer then the space allowed I would kindly suggest you read the rest in the next tip.
The Art nouveau style is much present in Brussels (refer to Art Nouveau by ptitetoile for an overview). In 2005, Art Nouveau receives a special attention called Brussels 2005, Art Nouveau.
"Art nouveau & Design" proposes an overview of the evolution of decorative arts in XIXth and XXth century through the creativity of Belgian artists. A large part of the exhibition is devoted to Art Nouveau (Horta, Hankar, Van de Velde, Serrurier-Bovy, Wolfers).
From May 25th till December 31st 2005.