Bust by Mucha.
Among the best and newest museums in Brussels, the Fin-de-siecle Museum stands out for its Art Nouveau collection. Although the whole Fin-de-siecle is not impossible to cover in one go, it is advisable to split the visit at least in two. Most people, including myself, after an hour or two watching the paintings of Ensor, Seurat, Signat, Gaugin and the like don’t reach the last floor, or reach it with depleted attention batteries, missing in consequence the Gillion Crowet collection.
The Gillion Crowet collection is composed of the items of the donation of the collection of the Gillion Crowet family. This wealthy Belgian family started collecting Art Nouveau in the 60s when Art Nouveau was neglected and out of fashion. They gathered passionately sculptures, furniture and a fantastic number of Gallé vases (up to 350 at one moment) when these items were considered a lower, too decorative kind of art. Since 2013, the collection is open to the public.
You walk around the brand-new exhibition rooms almost on your own. The lights focus on the items leaving the rest in a dim atmosphere. You can concentrate quietly on the marvelous gallés. Let’s pick up some examples.
In this vase you find the almost fatal attraction of a carved orchid, a paphiopedilum probably, on a multilayer cameoglass.
Here the representation takes you to the nightly world. The curved black objets stand out under a moon-lit sky. You would not usually say that night butterflies are beautiful but here they treasure the mystery of an unkown world.
Another foreign world, the sea, comes with this vase in mixed green and gold. This seahorse looks as delicate as strange. In a world before Jacques Costeau‘s and Richard Attenborough‘s documentaries this creature must have looked even more stunning than today.
In this last cameo glass, there is something animal in the buds of the magnolia flowers. They look almost as tentacles. A clear Japanese influence with a combination of colours that may not please everyone.
To be continued…