Brussels has several Art Deco jewels. Among those, the small “Musée van Buuren” is at the top of the list. It is a unique, intimate house located in the residential area of Uccle, full of paintings, sculptures, Art Deco furniture and objects created by Belgian, French and Dutch designers.
These art pieces were acquired by an admirable couple: patrons of the Arts David-Michel Van Buuren – a Dutchman who came to Brussels in 1909 as a young banker – and his Belgian wife Alice. In the early 1930s, they transformed their house into a cultural “salon”. René Magritte, Raoul Dufy, Christian Dior, Jacques Prevert and many others were among their guests. In their beautiful home, built in 1928 in the Amsterdam school style, they organised concerts in the music lounge, ballets in their garden and commissioned various contemporary artists and designers.
The hallway shows a chandelier from the 1920s by Jan Eisenloeffel, a sculpture from the Belgian artist George Minne (a marble sculpture from the same series can be seen at the Neue Gallerie in New York), stained glass windows by the Dutch artist Jaap Gidding, and a rosewood staircase.
The living rooms contain, among other things, various carpets designed by Jaap Gidding, inspired by orientalism and cubism, a Lalique vase, a lamp from Belgian artist Maurice Gaspard, silverware from Philippe Wolfers and a piano owned by the famous composer and pianist Erik Satie.
The art collection includes an eclectic range of paintings from various periods including paintings from Fantin-Latour, Gustave Van de Woestyne, James Ensor, Kees Van Dongen. Gustave De Smet, Rik Wouters, Constant Permeke and Paul Signac.
The garden is the work of landscape designers Jules Buyssens and René Pechère. It is divided into six different areas, each with its own specific atmosphere. One of them is the Garden of the Heart (jardin du Coeur), designed by Pechère following Alice’s wish to pay tribute to her husband after his death.
This wonder is two and a half hours from London by Eurostar. From My City organises private group visits where guests are able to meet with Isabelle Anspach, the museum’s curator, who recently published a book on the house and its garden. Private events can also be organised in the museum. As a fellow of the David and Alice Foundation, I am taking this opportunity to pay tribute to this extraordinary Belgian couple who supported hundreds of artists and students.