Stoclet Palace

Brussels, Belgium

The Stoclet Palace was built by architect Josef Hoffmann for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet between 1905 and 1911. Considered Hoffman's masterpiece, the Stoclet's house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century. The mansion is still occupied by the Stoclet family and is not open to visitors. It was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in June 2009.

The Stoclet Palace was commissioned by Adolphe Stoclet (1871-1949), a wealthy industrialist and art collector. He chose 35-year-old Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), a founder member of the Vienna Secession, a radical group of designers and artists established in 1897. Hoffman abandoned fashions and styles of the past and produced a building that is an asymmetrical compilation of rectangular blocks, underlined by exaggerated lines and corners.

The starkness of the exterior is softened by artistic windows, which break through the line of the eaves, the rooftop conservatory and bronze sculptures of four nude males by Franz Metzner, which are mounted on the tower that rises above the stairwell. Regimented upright balustrades line the balconies, touched with Art Nouveau ornamentation.

The Stoclet Palace was the first residential project for the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), co-founded by Hoffman in 1903. Josef Hoffman and his colleagues designed every aspect of the mansion, down to the door handles and light fittings. The interior is as spartan as the exterior, with upright geometric furniture and minimal clutter. This was a avant-garde approach, presenting a 'reformed interior' where function dictated foem. The interior of the building is decorated with marble paneling and artworks, including mosaic friezes by Gustav Klimt and murals by Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel. The integration of architects, artists, and artisans makes Stoclet Palace an example of a Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the defining characteristics of Jugendstil. Klimt's sketches for the dining room are in the permanent collection of the Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK) in Vienna.

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