Henry van de Velde – Belgian Painter, Architect and Interior Designer (1863-1957)

Belgian architect and teacher who ranks with his compatriot Victor Horta as an originator of the Art Nouveau Style, characterized by long sinuous lines derived from naturalistic forms.

Info source: www.britannica.com

He first trained as a painter in Antwerp, Belgium, and later studied architecture and applied arts. Influenced by the theories of William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts movement, Van de Velde abandoned painting and turned his attention to architecture and the applied arts.

The building of his own house, Bloemenwerf, at Uccle near Brussels (1895) marked the beginning of his new career. For this house he designed all the furniture and appointments.

Info source: biography.yourdictionary.com

In 1902 he was invited to Weimar to establish the Arts and Crafts School, which he directed from 1906 to 1914 and which would later become the famous Bauhaus, the center of the Modernist Movement in Germany.

Forerunner and theoretician of modernism and functionalism, Henry van de Velde, was a leading artist of the Art Nouveau movement, as he elaborated a personal but contemporary style in architecture, furniture design and crafts works. He was know as the first Art Nouveau artists to work in an abstract style and developed the concept of the union of form and function.

Info source: www.senses-artnouveau.com

Chair from “House Bloemenwerf”, about 1895, v. d. Velde
Chair from “House Bloemenwerf”, about 1895, v. d. Velde

Source image: www.uncubemagazine.com

What are the major works of Henry van de Velde?

Henry van de Velde designed a vast range of items, such as architecture works and whole interior decorations, furniture, ceramics, metalwork and jewelry. His furniture designs are linear, highly detailed by innovative decorations and expressive ornamental designs, tempered by strong traditional elements.

Info source: www.senses-artnouveau.com

His Art Nouveau designs, always bent with dynamic curves, are some of the most typical of the period. They often turn to abstraction like in the placard for the Tropon firm or the book cover for “Ecce Homo” by Nietzche.

Info source: www.art-nouveau-around-the-world.org

Cover design of the 1908 Insel edition of Friedrich Nietzsche's Ecce Homo
Cover design of the 1908 Insel edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo

Source image: en.wikipedia.org

Major works:

  • Bloemenwerf, Van de Velde’s first private residence, in Ukkel, Belgium, 1895–96;
  • Interior of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen, Germany, 1900–02;
  • Villa Esche in Chemnitz, Germany, 1902–03, 1911 (extension);
  • Extension and interior decoration of the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar, Germany, 1903;
  • Van de Velde Building in Weimar, home of the art faculty of the Bauhaus-University, 1905-06;
  • Hohenhof, Mansion for Karl Ernst Osthaus in Hagen, Germany, 1907–08;
  • Cover design of the 1908 Insel edition of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo;
  • Werkbund-Theater, Theatre at the Deutsche Werkbund exhibition in Cologne, Germany, 1913–14;
  • Villa Schulenburg in Gera, Germany, 1913–14.
Haus Schulenburg in Gera, 1913-1914, v. d. Velde

Source image: www.gera.de


  • Writing desk and chair in oak, bronze, copper and leather, with incorporated electrical lamps and metalwork fittings, 1898;
  • Wooden armchairs upholstered in leather, 1900.

Info source: en.wikipedia.org

Writing Desk, 1899, v. d. Velde

Source image: www.uncubemagazine.com

His Art Nouveau furniture often opposed these dynamic lines with massive shapes so as his buildings. He was reproached to build his buildings like furniture. Nevertheless, Henry Van de Velde is one of the Art Nouveau architects who makes most the shapes give an emotion.

Info source: www.art-nouveau-around-the-world.org

He also published several books and essays on his original art theories, such as “Le Déblaiement d’Art” (1895), “Renaissance in Arts and Crafts” (1901) and “Vom neuen Stil” (1907).

Info source: www.senses-artnouveau.com

For more references, please also visit: www.jbdesign.it

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