Journal Article

Design in Belgium before Art Nouveau: Art, Industry and the Reform of Artistic Education in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

Daniela N. Prina

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 23, issue 4, pages 329-350
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online December 2010 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epq030
Design in Belgium before Art Nouveau: Art, Industry and the Reform of Artistic Education in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

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This paper analyses the Belgian contribution to the design reform movement in the second half of the nineteenth century. Hitherto, few studies have been dedicated to the history of design practices in Belgium in the decades that preceded the birth of Art Nouveau. In particular, the extremely laborious acknowledgement of an official status for the design discipline, legitimized through the reform of education in the attempt to improve teaching methods in the academies and in the art schools and to raise the quality of the industrial product, has only been partially explored. The support and the intersection of a series of various documentary sources—archive funds, printed records, reports and essays concerning the domain of arts and their influence on industry—have helped in recreating the background of Belgian decorative arts reform. Documentary analysis has permitted the evaluation of diverse experiences within the theoretical and didactic framework, illustrating their possible contribution in the field of technical and practical literature, in artistic instruction and in the instruments of transmission and representation. Moreover, this reform process had led, at the end of the century, towards some of the most remarkable outcomes in Belgium, contributing to the advent of Art Nouveau.

Keywords: art academies; Art Nouveau; Belgium; decorative arts reforms; design education; taste

Journal Article.  13369 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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