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Belgian And Dutch Renaissance - Examples

( Originally Published 1921 )

The Town Hall, Antwerp (A.D. 1565) (p. 665 A), erected by de Vriendt, is typical of the municipal activity and commercial prosperity of this great city port with its fine harbour for the merchant vessels which sailed the Western Seas. The building, with a facade over 300 ft. long, rises from a sturdy, rusticated ground storey surmounted by two stages of Doric and Ionic Orders, separating large mullioned windows, reminiscent of the Gothic period and crowned by a top storey forming an open gallery. This is surmounted by a hipped roof of deep projection giving a pronounced shadow and containing two tiers of dormer windows. The richly decorated centre rises as a pavilion with a high gable in diminishing stages in which are statue, niches.

The Town Hall, Ghent (p. 476 A), part of which has been described under Gothic (p. 474), shows, in a strikingly comparative manner, the fundamental difference of the Gothic and Renaissance styles ; for the Renaissance addition (A.D. 1595-1622), with superimposed Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders supporting long horizontal entablatures, is in marked contrast with the rising lines of the older Gothic building alongside.

The Town Hall, Ypres (A.D. 1620) (p. 476 B), a beautiful little Renaissance building, has, like many other monuments in Belgium, now been destroyed by the Germans, who have been as ruthless in their destruction of the treasures of architecture as they have been regardless of the sanctity of treaties, a double perfidy to which Belgium and numbers of her buildings have been sacrificed.

The Town Hall, Leyden (A.D. 1579) (p. 668 G), is generally regarded as one of the most successful in Holland with the centre of the facade richly treated and crowned with a fantastic scrollwork gable, while its octagonal clock turret recalls the Moorish architecture of Spain.

The Town Hall, Delft, is in the main a Gothic building, to which Renaissance additions were made in A.D. 1618.

The Town Hall, Haarlem, was an old Gothic palace of the Counts of Holland, remodelled in A.D. 1620 in the new style, and is surmounted by a fine wooden fleche covered with metal and slates.

The Town Hall, Utrecht, is late Renaissance with Doric and Ionic Orders, without any trace of Gothic feeling.

The Town Hall, The Hague (A.D. 1565), is picturesque and characteristic of the period, while the side facades show some lingering Mediaeval influence.

The Royal Palace, Amsterdam (A.D. 164855), is imposing by reason of size rather than design, and was originally intended for a town hall. Its plain treatment of basement and two Orders of pilasters lacks imaginative feeling.

The Guild Houses, Brussels (p. 666 A), erected by the Archers (A.D. 1691), Skippers (A.D. 1697), Carpenters (A.D. 1697), Printers (A.D. 1697), Mercers (A.D. 1699), Butchers (A.D. 1720), Brewers (A.D. 1752), Tailors, and Painters, reflect the prosperity and importance of the fraternities of craftsmen during this epoch.

The Guild Houses, Antwerp, erected by the Archers and the Coopers (A.D. 1579), are buildings of a similar character.

The Maison de l'Ancien Greif e, Bruges (A.D. 1535) (p. 665 c), now part of the Palais de Justice, has a two-storeyed facade with quasi-Doric Orders, mullioned and transomed windows, and central gable with side scrolls, crockets, and figures. The Court Room is famous for its magnificent carved chimney-piece executed to commemorate the " Peace of Cambrai " and the independence of Flanders.

The Hotel du Saumon, Malines (A.D. 1530), the Palais de Justice, Liege (A.D. 1526), and the Mauritzhaus, The Hague (A.D. 1630), are other very typically Renaissance buildings, but all are surpassed in interest by the Musee Plantin, Antwerp (A.D. 1550) (pp. 666 B, 671 D), which is a unique example of the combined dwelling-house and business premises of a Flemish merchant prince of that period.

The " Beguinage," Bruges, planned for a community of women, as a town within a town with church, dwellings, and offices all within an enclosing wall, is an example of an institution which is peculiarly Belgian.


The Palais de Justice, Brussels (A.D. 186683) (p. 667 A), a Neo-Grec design by Polaert, is one of the most remarkable modern buildings in Europe in the extent and completeness of its plan and the monumental character of its pyramidal form on a dominating site. It stands four-square on a height overlooking the city, and has imposing central entrance and side wings connected by Doric colonnades, while above rises the colonnaded tower surmounted by a circular peristyle supporting the dome. It is said to have cost nearly two million pounds sterling, and the little capital city has here shown a public spirit which is a noble example to cities of greater wealth and importance.

The Exchange, Brussels (A.D. 1874) (p. 667 B), indicates the academic teaching of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. The entrance portico of Corinthian columns, sculptured pediment, and low square dome are the outstanding features of this well-balanced design, which is typical of many modern buildings in Brussels.

S. Michel, Louvain (A.D. 1650) (p. 665 B), is a good example of a Baroque facade (p. 664), with superimposed Ionic and Composite columns, broken pediments, and enormous side scrolls masking the aisle roofs and sup-porting lofty pinnacles.

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