Sculpture Journal

Beyaert’s Square de la Place du Petit Sablon: architectural sculpture, identity, and artistic and political networks in late nineteenth-century Brussels

Sculpture Journal (2016), 25, (3), 329–342.

Abstract

Inaugurated in 1890, Henri Beyaert’s Square de la Place du Petit Sablon in Brussels is a collective work that integrates urban landscape, architecture, and monumental and decorative sculpture. This landmark is an emblematic product of the relationship between sculpture and architecture. As a case study, the Square de la Place du Petit Sablon exemplifies the difficult creative and economic dynamics as well as the artistic and technical challenges that faced sculptors in Belgium. This article also considers the square in the context of the artistic policies of the Belgian state. The symbolic aspects of the Square de la Place du Petit Sablon have been interpreted as emblematic of romantic nationalism. This article argues that the square reflects the moral, artistic and political ideals of a circle of liberal French-speaking intellectuals, intent on forming a new Belgian society. The article also claims that the purpose of this project was to evoke the renewed alliance of the arts: architecture, applied arts and sculpture.

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Author details

Prina, Daniela N.