Belgium

Belgium
1 record
Belgium absorbed the ideas of the British Arts and Craft movement more directly than most countries. Anglophilia was widespread there, and Belgium and England had a similar heritage of early industrialization. Established as a nation only in 1830, Belgium had the most factories and the densest population on the continent by the end of the century. While mechanization and colonialism (Belgium had taken over the vast African Congo in 1885) dominated the young country’s economy, traditional craft production was central to the formation of its national identity.

Not surprisingly, Belgian artists and intellectuals found the British Arts and Crafts reformist vision particularly meaningful. The country’s two leading designers, Henry Van de Velde and Gustave Serrurier-Bovy, shared the socialist commitment of leaders such as William Morris and Walter Crane. Van de Velde viewed his transition from painter to designer a conversion experience, and he considered William Morris the most significant influence in his life. Like Morris, he created the furnishings for his own home and started a company to make his work available to a wider audience. While Van de Velde held the most passionate convictions, it was Serrurier-Bovy who met the challenge of producing well-made furnishings and complete interiors that were also affordable to middle-class consumers.

- Wendy Kaplan (2005)