Unique historical documents by Victor Horta up for auction in Brussels

Unique historical documents by Victor Horta up for auction in Brussels
Credit: Arenberg Auctions

Brussels auction house Arenberg Auctions will put several unique historical period documents by Belgian Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta and the Belgian Baron up for auction in mid-December, as well as an expedition by the son of explorer Adrien de Gerlache.

Specifically, it concerns three private albums containing Horta's personal collection of American sight maps and an original photo book by a member of the expedition of Gaston de Gerlache, son of explorer Adrien de Gerlache.

"This historical time document exposes Horta's relatively unknown interest in America and reflects how the master of art nouveau evolved and modernised," the auction house said in a press release.

Postcard collection

Horta is world-renowned for the architectural gems he left behind in Brussels, from buildings with beautiful Art Nouveau facades to The Maison du Peuple, he designed breathtaking houses and public buildings in our country's capital.

"But perhaps less known is that the architect travelled to the States during WWI, where from 1916 to 1918 he lectured on German wartime aggression against Belgium's cultural heritage, among other things," the auction house pointed out.

During his stay, Horta is said to have collected postcards, at a time when photography was in its infancy, to record his impressions of the New World. Based on the postcards the architect collected and the drawings and annotations he made on them, his journey can be perfectly reconstructed.

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An original photo book will also be auctioned, showing unique images of Gaston de Gerlache's 1957 expedition to the South Pole, during which he tried to follow in his father's footsteps.

"The photo album now up for auction gives a unique look behind the scenes of that expedition," said Henri Godts of Arenberg Auctions. "Certainly the rather 'theatrical', sometimes crazy photos of the crew are remarkable, as are the images of encounters with emperor penguins, a seal hunt and the reception by King Baudouin."

The auction runs from 14 to 16 December.

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