Art for Art Nouveau’s Sake | Cultural Capital
Just as Josep Puig i Cadafalch is overshadowed by Gaudí, so Victor Horta steals the limelight from Gustave Strauven. Monsieur Strauven was a protégé of Monsieur Horta. His pièce de résistance is a sliver of a building on Ambiorix Square, Brussels’ finest address. He designed and built this house, as slim as a Parisian Métro station beacon, for the painter George Saint-Cyr between 1901 and 1903. It’s a slender symphony of sinuous wrought iron lines dancing across a stone façade, a single bay four metre wide work of art, a magnificent manifesto to all things Art Nouveau. Above a lower ground floor truncated Sunset Boulevardesque staircase, projecting and inset balconies weave and wander up the building, feathery columns as thin as bedposts propping up a first floor viewing gallery; then more twists and turns until finally reaching a crescendo – ta da! – a top floor circular loggia. In front of the house, the greenery of Ambiorix Square slopes down to the greenery and water of Palmerston Square which in turn falls towards the water of Marie-Louise Square. In the distance lies the city of diplomats.