Art Nouveau refers to a style of art and design that emerged in Europe during the Belle Epoque period.
Designs that characterise the Art Nouveau aesthetic aspired to a sense of dynamism and movement – drawing on natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers.
It was in the city of Brussels where Art Nouveau designs first began to emerge. In 1893, architect Victor Horta completed the construction of Tassel House. This project is now seen as being a landmark in the Art Nouveau movement – the house had a modern façade and sumptuous interiors – all in stained glass, mosaics and wrought iron.
Marking 130 years since the construction of Tassel House, the city of Brussels is celebrating its rich Art Nouveau heritage.
Why is Brussels the capital of Art Nouveau?
As the Art Nouveau style grew in popularity, it was the wealthy citizens of Brussels that were at the forefront – demonstrating their socio-economic status by creating homes that were works of art.
Today, Brussels is full of buildings, furniture, objects and works of art linked to Art Nouveau.
There’s a huge range of Art Nouveau points of interest that you can explore while visiting Brussels – these include:
The Belgian Comic Strip Center
This museum is located in the old Waucquez stores – a masterpiece of Art Nouveau designed by Victor Horta. Unlike many Art Nouveau architectural works, this building wasn’t created as a private residence – built in 1906, it housed the shops of the textile wholesaler, Charles Waucquez.
The Wolfers Frères jewellery store
Located in the shadow of the Saints-Michel-et-Gudule cathedral, this store was created in an exclusive street that – at the time – was reserved for luxury boutiques. Designed in 1909, this was a collaboration between Victor Horta and the master builder Philippe Wolfers. While the original building still stands, the interior has been recreated at the Art & History Museum – the exhibition also includes items from the family’s jewellery collection.
The Autrique House
Built in 1893, the Autrique House is a landmark in the career of Victor Horta and in the emergence of the Art Nouveau style. Following a meticulous restoration, the Autrique House showcases why the Art Nouveau residences of Brussels are celebrated the world over.
La Maison Cauchie
Paul Cauchie – a renowned architect and designer – created La Maison Cauchie as a home for himself and his wife, Lina. The house was built in 1905. It was effectively a showroom advertisement for the style and sophistication that the Cauchie’s could create for their clients.
The Musical Instruments Museum
In 1899, architect Paul Saintenoy created the Old England building. It’s now the home of the Musical Instruments Museum. This building is renowned as one of the finest examples of the Art Nouveau style in Brussels. In addition to admiring the building, you get access to a breathtaking view across Brussels from the rooftop.
The Horta Museum
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Victor Horta’s personal house and workshop is something of a place of pilgrimage for Art Nouveau enthusiasts. Horta lived in the house from 1901 until 1919. The interior is remarkable – from the mosaics of the floor to the door handles, every detail is exquisite.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this architectural gem has long remained hidden but is now accessible to us all. Located on the prestigious Avenue Louise, the Hôtel Solvay is one of the finest creations by Victor Horta. It was built in 1903 for Armand Solvay – an industrialist who had become one of the richest men in Europe. The budget appears to have been unlimited – Horta was instructed to create a private hotel that reflected Solvay’s wealth and status.
What is the Art Nouveau Pass?
Discovering the hidden world of the Art Nouveau interiors of Brussels is made a lot easier with the Art Nouveau Pass.
Valid for a period of six months, the Art Nouveau Pass gives you access to three architectural gems – and you get to choose which ones. There’s a range of other discounts also included with your pass.
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