Sculpture Journal

Inside sculptors’ studios in belle époque Brussels: an interior architectural view

Sculpture Journal (2020), 29, (2), 193–216.


Recent international exhibitions and publications on artists’ studios have relied heavily on visual sources such as photographs, prints and paintings. Approaching the subject from an architectural and interior design perspective using construction plans for studio buildings – in particular, ground plans and sections – we can situate the studio space more broadly within the building and the plot on which it stands. This in turn offers a better understanding of specific studio practice and of the dialectical relationship between living and working, making and showing. We examine purpose-built sculptors’ studios in belle époque Brussels. Based on a substantial sample of construction plans, a five-point typology is developed. Case studies are then used to determine the respects in which sculptors’ studios differ in architectural terms from painters’ studios and how they express contemporary ideas about sculptural practice. Despite their administrative and technical character – or possibly because of it – the plans of Brussels sculptors’ studios, which are drawn out down to the smallest space, provide us with an alternative, almost intimate insight into the life and work of nineteenth-century Belgian sculptors.

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Author details

Van Santvoort, Linda

Sterckx, Marjan