Paul Cauchie, Belgian (1875 - 1952)

Paul Cauchie

Paul Cauchie (Auguste Paul Cauchie), Belgian architect, painter and decorator, born 7 July 1875, in Ath (province of Hainaut) and died 1 December 1952, in Etterbeek (Brussels).

He was one of the outstanding figures of Art Nouveau in Belgium. Its architectural style, unlike those of Victor Horta or Paul Hankar, who used wrought iron and stone to suggest vegetable scrolls, is characterized by a geometric rigor balanced by the richness of the pictorial decorations.

The fact that Paul Cauchie left the architectural section of the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts after two years of study (1891-1893), to follow Constant Montald's painting courses in Brussels (1893-1898) ), No doubt indicates a maturation of his vocation. He is eighteen and feels more hooked atoms with painting than with architect drawings. Nevertheless, he attended lectures at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, where he was a fellow student of Gabriel van Dievoet. No doubt it is seduced by the effervescence that then reigns in the world of contemporary painting.

Its architectural work is also very limited: three houses-workshops in Brussels, two twin villas on the Belgian coast, as well as a villa, Villa Dageraad (Villa l'Aurore) today ranked in Eeklo. Friend of the architect Édouard Frankinet, the importance and influence of the latter on the architecture of Cauchie are not to be underestimated.

On the other hand, in the field of façade decoration and, in particular, the sgraffito technique honored by the Art Nouveau movement, it gives its full measure and is the most talented and prolific artisan in Belgium .

During the second part of his life, Paul Cauchie worked extensively in the Netherlands where he decorated and furnished small prefabricated houses. He is buried with his wife Lina Voet in the cemetery of Wezembeek-Ophem.

Paul Cauchie was a pioneer in the renaissance of sgraffito technique in the nineteenth century. It is a decorative wall fresco, shaped by scratching in a thin layer of colored mortar, the practice of which dates back to antiquity. He himself realized several hundred and taught his technique. These include the frieze of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent or the elegant motifs of the Maison Delune, those of the old Delhaize warehouse or the facade cladding of an Art Nouveau house on Malibran Avenue in Ixelles .

His most famous work is the Cauchie House, built in 1905 as a dwelling and workshop for Paul Cauchie and his wife, Caroline Voets, a talented painter, nicknamed Lina. Considered today one of the most beautiful achievements of the Art Nouveau in Brussels, the house is marked by the multiple creations of the couple: murals, decorations, embroideries, furniture, lustreries and sgraffito.

After the disappearance of the couple, the frescoes are covered with wallpaper and the furniture partially destroyed; The house is then abandoned and deteriorates sharply. A request for demolition was introduced in 1971 by the heirs. Saved narrowly and classified, it will be bought in 1980 by a couple of individuals, Leo and Guy Dessicy, who undertook its long and difficult restoration. After imagining the installation of a Tintin museum, with the enthusiastic agreement of Hergé, Guy Dessicy finally founded the Belgian Comic Strip Center, installed since 1989 in the old Waucquez shops.

Today saved, Maison Cauchie houses an exhibition room on the ground floor and in the former workshop.

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