Victor Horta and Art Nouveau in Brussels

I have many reasons to love Brussels, and the Art Nouveau architecture is one of them. You can stroll through the city and come across the most beautiful examples of this imaginative art style. Such wealth is not surprising, because Art Nouveau was set into motion by the Belgian architect Victor Horta and he’s considered one of the main founders of the movement. Horta was born on this day in 1861. Using novel glass and ironwork techniques and new materials, Horta created the look that defined Art Nouveau–swaying lines, Japanese inspired motifs, whimsical structures and warm light.

Some of his notable works in Brussels included the Maison du Peuple in Brussels, (1895-1900); The Centre for Fine Arts (1923-1929), and the Brussels Central Station (1913-1952). Alas, the Maison du Peuple was demolished in 1965 during the same craze for Brutalism that left Brussels and other European cities with many eyesores.

One of my favorite buildings by Horta is the Hôtel Tassel (1893), its beautiful staircase is captured in the image above. Since it’s privately owned, it’s difficult to visit, but Horta’s house is now the Museum of Victor Horta and it gives you a good sense of his style. If you’re in Brussels, don’t miss the chance to marvel at the architect’s fantasy and ingenuity.

How would you scent the place in the photograph? 

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23 Comments

  • Simbelmyne: This place makes me think of my first impression of the drydown of Twilly. Golden-hued, soothing, yet moving fluidly from one impression to the next. January 6, 2020 at 9:18am Reply

  • Fazal: Caron Parfum Sacre edp was the first perfume to come to mind when I looked at the above image. January 6, 2020 at 9:51am Reply

  • Tami: Amber, woods, vanilla, five spice.

    Probably not something I’d wear myself… but I love the architecture itself! January 6, 2020 at 10:59am Reply

  • Tati: Une Fleur de Cassie. This hall looks like the pollen-laden, honeyed scent of mimosa. I imagine walking through you would have the subtle smell of paper from the decorated walls, and perhaps the animalic hint of musk from people who have recently passed through before you. January 6, 2020 at 11:19am Reply

  • Cornelia Tersanszki: Miss Dior is the parfume that comes into my mind.. January 6, 2020 at 11:52am Reply

  • Hamamelis: April Aromatics Unter den Linden, or Hiram Green’s Slowdive both honey golden. Le temps d’une fete also fits! Beautiful picture. January 6, 2020 at 1:50pm Reply

  • Gretchen: Art Nouveau is one of my very favorite styles, followed closely by Art Deco – so different, yet both so elegant and thoughtful. One all fluidity and warmth, while the other is angular, precise, and crisp. For the photo above, two fragrances come to mind, not of the period itself (some precursor to L’Heure Bleue and Jicky would be appropriate, but not warm enough) but so indicative of nouveau richness: Grand Soir (Kurkdjian) or 24 Faubourg (Hermes). January 6, 2020 at 2:53pm Reply

  • Marie: Elixir des merveilles hermes… January 6, 2020 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Morelle: Santal Blanc (Serge Lutens). Can’t say why, but it immediately came to mind. January 6, 2020 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Caroline: Perhaps I’m being influenced by the design on the bottle (similar to the photo), but have to say 24 Faubourg. January 6, 2020 at 6:52pm Reply

  • Leslie: It reminds me of pumpkin vines in the vintage animated movie Cinderella when her coach is being made from a pumpkin. Etat Libre d’Orange Tilda Swinton Like This. I also think Tilda would dig that staircase. January 6, 2020 at 9:22pm Reply

    • Klaas: Hahaha, the Cinderella association is perfect! Disney really did magic with the transformation of the pumpkin (and the dress out of swirls of fairy dust!)

      Not a bad staircase to loose a slipper either!

      As for the scent, despite of all the golden hues and ambery warmth, Jugendstil was all about optimism, modernity and innovation. I should like to scent it with something crisp, green and definitely with iris in it……Chanel 19 would be perfect! January 8, 2020 at 4:20pm Reply

  • spe: Immediately I thought of the now discontinued Guerlain Philtre d’ Amour. I think it would be perfect.

    Being that it doesn’t exist, then I considered Aramis 900 / Aromatics Elixir but they seemed to heavy. Then I considered Derby or Habit Rouge. Then I got to vetiver.

    So, number one choice is Guerlain Vetiver. Number two choice MPG Racine. The woody background with a touch of lightness. Number three choice is Derby. January 6, 2020 at 11:26pm Reply

  • irem: Mitsouko. Maybe not very creative, but the golden light together with the more sombre woodwork reminded me immediately of the peach shining through the oakmoss and spicy notes in Mitsouko. January 7, 2020 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Qwendy: I love this place too, it’s magical to go there! Maybe because I am wearing it today and am rather stunned by its opulence, Lyric Woman! January 7, 2020 at 4:24pm Reply

  • angeline: definitely 24 faubourg ! it needs an old world opulence of sweeping sophistication, and 24 faubourg has that. elegant, warm, beautiful and strong. January 7, 2020 at 6:44pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Perhaps Bellodgia by Caron? January 8, 2020 at 1:46am Reply

  • Silvermoon: I first thought of Ambre Narguile, but when I read Gretchen ‘s suggestion of 24 Faubiourg (another Hermes), I immediately thought that was perfect. Later I read many others felt the same. January 8, 2020 at 9:23am Reply

  • Leslie: You are so right, chanel 19 would be perfect! January 8, 2020 at 10:20pm Reply

    • spe: Great one! That cool powdery contrast would be beautiful. January 9, 2020 at 11:43am Reply

  • Muriel: If I were to stand where the picture has been taken, I would enjoy a scent based on mimosa and cedarwood. However, I would also like to see a strong personality wearing Schiaparelli Shocking going down these stairs.
    As for Horta’s work, I also enjoy the building of the Centre de la Bande Dessinée and the Maison Cauchie and I would love to find the perfect scent to diffuse in the Gare Centrale and especially in Metro corridor 😀 (I really like the lights hanging there, when clean) January 10, 2020 at 2:57am Reply

  • Aurora: That staircase is spectacular. Art Nouveau buildings and furniture are so graceful. My father’s old bureau is by Majorelle and sadly sits in the basement of our Provence country house. You inspire me to do something about this. January 10, 2020 at 12:50pm Reply

  • Rodica: What a coincidence – I bought a beautiful book about Horta’s architecture on Wednesday. It had the above picture on the cover, of course. 🙂 What would your pick be, Victoria? And can you also recommend some perfumes that would capture the spirit of Art Nouveau? January 10, 2020 at 8:03pm Reply

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