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Monday, 19 November 2012

The GROESBEECK-de CROIX MUSEUM IN NAMUR | Historical Interiors | 18th Century Period Furniture

Groesbeeck-de Croix Museum (Garden view)
Patrick Damiaens
Ornamental woodcarver
The Groesbeeck-de Croix Museum in Namur 

In this blog item we visit,  
The Groesbeeck-de Croix Museum in Namur (Belgium)

A museum of the decorative arts, it bears the name of the former owners of this XVIII century hôtel de maître. The atmosphere is one of an aristocratic residence of the Age of Enlightenment. 
The interior decoration blends in with the architecture. The collections here highlight the artistic works of sculptors, cabinet makers, goldsmiths, watchmakers, glassmakers, etc. of the Namur region. A “French” garden adds a note of greenery to the overall harmony. 

On the first flour of  GROESBEECK-de CROIX Namur

The Groesbeeck-de Croix Museum satisfies a two-fold interest. Firstly there is the external and internal architecture spanning the 17th and 18th centuries and the great variety of collections providing evidence of the prevailing styles and tastes from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Secondly, and more importantly, thanks to the synergy between the works of art and the building, there is an authentic apmosphere of a patrician home of the Age of Enlightenment, which has been preserved and developed year after year.



Between 1751 to 1753 the Belgian Jean-Baptiste Chermane (1704-1770) built it for Count Alexandre Francois de Groesbeeck. The building is divided into three wings in a H-shape and the central body contains some relics from the 17th century refuge of the abbey at Villers.
The 1751 reconstruction work is remarkably in line with the three fundamental rules of the 18th century architecture: a respect for intimacy, a search for a new functionality as well as an interest in the outside world. In a nutshell: a pleasure in life and a wish for pleasure.

Namur style Furniture

Namur-style wood carvings

A search for funtionality, that is to say, for anything whitch might make life easier, softer, and more pleasant is a response to the wish fot permanent dining room in the 18th century, prevented the table from having to be set properly for great occasions only and as a result, it was easier to put together smaller, more intimatr groups. The appearance of toilets, as well as the use of multiple layers and underwear, were also innovations introduced by J.B. Chermane.

We must also point out his admirable use of light, thanks to a system of indoor courtyards and also the diffusion of zenith light under the dome into the corridors, across the picture windows opening onto the vestibules of each floor and onto the staircase.

18th century Period style interiors

Finally numerous large windows are the most obvious feature giving an opening to the outside world. However, the very layout of the building had the same effect. The ground floor vestibule stretches across the entire house and creates a link between the lively and active world and the sealed-in world of the gardens.

The collections which belong to the Friends of the Hôtel de Croix, the Namur Archaeological Society and the town, can be divided into two groups: products of Namur on the one hand, and foreign products on the other.
The first group can be further divided  into furniture and ornaments and tools. Namur furniture is both architectural and majestic and was inspired both by French trends and the prevailing religios traditions.
Its decorations bear evidence of the development of styles from the Baroque through to the Louis XVI period. Let also not forget the precious French furniture (Cabinets, consoles, tables, armchairs...) which is kept on the ground floor.

Namur style furniture

The Interior décor
The town of Namur bought the Croix house in 1935; it features the entire span of different styles of decorating prevailing during the 18th Century. The wainscoting on the walls is decorated with simple geometric moulds and sometimes colour is used to highlight it. These panels might frame tapestries depicting rural landscapes  and woodlands, small romantic pictures , linen fabric with flower embroideries, pictures of wallpaper with floral and rock-work designs, hanging embossed panels of golden leather and even an example of vintage wallpaper.

The walls above the doors and fireplaces are decorated with paintings of elegant scenes, in the style of Jean-Antoine Watteau, scenes from mythology or even bunches of flowers. We owe most of the marble fireplaces sculpted in shell and rock shapes to Vandenbase.

18th century Namur-style wardrobe

There are also some works by other famous artistes from outside Namur City: Terracotta and marble works by the sculptor Laurent Delvaux, who was in the service of the Austrian governor, Charles de Lorraine, a bust of Vauban made by Coysevox, the official sculptor of Louis XIV, as well as a sketch by the Italian ornament painter, Tiepolo, pictures of flowers by Pierre-Joseph Redoute who was Marie-Antoinette's drawing teacher, and a portrait of the Sun King which has been attributed to H. Rigault furher adds to the charm and richness of the collections.

The Garden

If nature is present everywhere as inspiration for works of art indoors in the 18th century, it is nonetheless at its most poetic out in the garden. Four flowerbeds surround a pond giving it a symmetrical aspect, which further reinforces the view  of the elevated wing at the far end of the park. This is reminiscent of the rules of French gardening, which were dear to Le Notre. at the centre of this regularity however, there is a touch of English romanticism, in the form of a hundred-year-old tulip tree .

Useful Information

Rue Joseph Saintraint 3,  5000 Namur ( Belgium)
Closed mondays and between Christmas and  New Year
Opening hours
From 10:00 to 12:00 am and 13:30 to 17:00 pm

Entrance fee 3 Euro
Time needed for tour is 1 Hour

Texte provided by the Museum



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