MUSEE OF DECORATIVE ARTS OF NAMUR


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Closed for renovation. The museum satisfies a two-fold interest. Firstly there is the external and internal architecture spanning the 17th and 18th centuries and the great variety of collections providing evidence of the prevailing styles and tastes from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Secondly, and more importantly, thanks to the synergy between the works of art and the building, there is an authentic atmosphere of a patrician home of the Age of Enlightenment, which has been preserved and developed year after year. Architecture : Between 1751 to 1753 the Belgian Jean-Baptiste Chermane (1704 - 1770) built it for Count Alexandre-François de Groesbeeck. The building is divided into three wings in a H-shape and the central body contains some relics from the 17th century refuge of the abbey at Villers. The 1751 reconstruction work is remarkably in line with the three fundamental rules of 18th century architecture: a respect for intimacy, a search for a new functionality as well as an interest in the outside world. In a nutshell: a pleasure in life and a wish for pleasure. The south wing with its succession of simple yet comfortable apartments, boudoirs and alcoves, connected by little corridors avoiding a need to enter the main part of the building, expresses the need for intimacy. The ground floor, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Here J.-B. Chermane actually built a row of formal rooms, allowing guests to move around and admire the wealth of their host's interiors. A search for functionality, that is to say, for anything which might make life easier, softer, and more pleasant is a response to the wish for intimacy. The creation of a permanent dining room in the 18th century, prevented the table from having to be set properly for great occasions only and as a result, it was easier to put together smaller, more intimate groups. The appearance of toilets, as well as the use of multiple layers and underwear, were also innovations introduced by J.B. Chermane. We must also point out his admirable use of light, thanks to a system of indoor courtyards (shafts of light) and also the diffusion of zenith light under the dome into the corridors, across the picture windows opening onto the vestibules of each floor and onto the staircase. Finally numerous large windows are the most obvious feature giving an opening to the outside world. However, the very layout of the building has the same effect. The ground floor vestibule stretches across the entire house and creates a link between the lively and active world and the sealed-in world of the gardens. The Interior décor The town bought the Croix house in 1935; it features the entire span of different styles of decorating prevailing during the 18th Century. The wainscoting on the walls is decorated with simple geometric moulds and sometimes colour is used to highlight it. These panels might frame tapestries depicting rural landscapes and woodlands (hence the name forest-scenery), small romantic pictures (boudoir), linen fabric with flower embroideries (bedroom), pictures of wallpaper with floral and rock-work designs, hanging embossed panels of golden leather (Antechamber of the main drawing room and the above mentioned leather room) and even an example of vintage wallpaper (small room). The walls above the doors and fireplaces are decorated with paintings of elegant scenes, in the style of Jean-Antoine Watteau (dining room), scenes from mythology or even bunches of flowers. We owe most of the marble fireplaces sculpted in shell and rock shapes to Vandenbase. We must draw your attention further to the Chinese cabinet, which, once again, reflects the century's typical interest in knowledge, moving towards urbanisation, as well as the wonderful genuine antique kitchen. Finally, it is impossible to ignore the Rococo stuccos,, which decorate the dado-rail and the inside of the dome. A beautiful confusion of masks, flowers and gems make these some of Belgium's finest. Collections The collections which belong to the Friends of the Hôtel de Croix, the Namur Archaeological Society and the town, can be divided into two groups: products of Namur on the one hand, and foreign products on the other. The first group can be further divided into furniture and ornaments and tools. Namur furniture is both architectural and majestic and was inspired both by French trends and the prevailing religious traditions. Its decorations bear evidence of the development of styles from the Baroque through to the Louis XVI period. Let us also not forget the precious French furniture (cabinets, consoles, tables, chests of drawers, arm chairs and chairs) which is kept on the ground floor rooms. An important collection of coffee, chocolate, sweet and sugar pots and other beautiful utilitarian objects worked by Namur goldsmiths, give an insight into the diversity of domestic tools and culinary customs. The panoply is completed by a fine example of 18th and 19th centuries Namur cutlery. The museum also owns some excellent pieces from glass factories. In fact, Namur was the country's most important glass centre and the names Zoude and de Vonêche are known internationally for their glassware. Goblets, chandeliers, plates as well as a series of clocks in crystal and gilded bronze add charm to various rooms in the house. To complete the list of "home" products, we must also draw your attention to some wonderful souvenirs from the Andenne and Saint Servais potteries. They include lovely figures of lively children and couples, which have been attributed to the famous French artist Jacques Richardot, who spent some time in Namur in 1786. There are also some works by other famous artists from outside Namur: terracotta and marble works worked by the sculptor Laurent Delvaux, who was in the service of the Austrian governor, Charles de Lorraine, a bust of Vauban made by Coysevox, the official sculptor of Louis XIV, as well as a sketch by the Italian ornament painter, Tiepolo, pictures of flowers by Pierre-Joseph Redoute who was Marie-Antoinette's drawing teacher, and a portrait of the Sun King which has been attributed to H. Rigault further adds to the charm and richness of the collections. The gardens If nature is present everywhere as inspiration for works of art indoors in the 18th century, it is nonetheless at its most poetic out in the garden. Four flowerbeds surround a pond giving it a symmetrical aspect, which further reinforces the view of the elevated wing at the far end of the park. This is reminiscent of the rules of French gardening, which were dear to Le Notre. At the centre of this regularity however, there is a touch of English romanticism, in the form of a hundred-year-old tulip tree with the light shimmering through its leaves and livening up the little wall which separates the garden from the courtyard. Free on the first Sunday of the month

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MUSEE OF DECORATIVE ARTS OF NAMUR

3 Rue Joseph Saintraint
5000 Namur

+32 81 24 71 68

+32 81 24 87 20

museeartsdecoratifs@ville.namur.be