Cauchie house in Brussels
The Cauchie house (, ) was built in 1905 by Art Nouveau architect, painter and designer Paul Cauchie, in Etterbeek, Brussels, next of the Cinquantenaire. Its façade is remarkable for its allegorical sgraffiti.
A giant advertising billboard for an artist couple
Paul Cauchie was sixteen when he began his architectural studies at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts (in the classes of Joseph Schadde and Léonard Blomme). Very soon afterwards he enrolled at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts (in the class of Constant Montald), where he studied painting (as a pupil of Jean Portaels) and the sgraffito technique, and followed courses in decorative painting (1893–1898). From 1895, whilst still pursuing his studies, Paul Cauchie started to work for his living. Apart from his own house, only three houses built by Cauchie are known: two others in Brussels and one at Duinbergen. As Cauchie was more of a decorator than an architect, he specialised in designing sgraffiti for architecture.
Cauchie met his future wife in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Carolina 'Lina' Voet achieved a very good level in painting, enabling her to teach drawing and painting privately.
They married in 1905 and decided to build a house on the 6 m-wide plot of land Cauchie bought next to the Cinquantenaire Park. He designed the front of the house with the intention of advertising and selling their work: sgraffiti for him and art teaching for her. As the house was easily seen from the neighboring roads, it drew the attention of passers-by and demonstrated their know-how.
At the very centre of the façade, Cauchie drew the words "" . The house was designed, from the very beginning, as a joint work intended for private use. Cauchie did the drawings for the house but worked together with his wife to design and decorate their home-workshop. Cauchie and his wife filled the house with their multiple works of art (paintings, wall coverings, furniture,...)
The Cauchie house is a good example of the application of the principle of "total art" in architecture. Cauchie and his wife wanted that the distinction between the main art forms (architecture, painting, sculpture) and the minor art forms (decorative arts) disappeared to became part of the global œuvre.
A Tintin Museum in the Cauchie House?
In 1979, the saving of the Cauchie House led to the idea of using it to house a Tintin museum in cooperation with Hergé. Symbolically on Christmas Day, 1980, Hergé gave Dessicy his official agreement to the project. Dessicy undertook an intensive study with Bob De Moor, who laid the bases of the scenography. A scale model was made by the Studios Hergé.
M. Dessicy started to look for sponsors and supports. In the meantime, he devote himself to saving another building, the former Magasins Waucquez, work of the Belgian architect Victor Horta. Despite many steps taken to find sponsors, Dessicy did not succeed in creating sufficient interest to complete his project of a Tintin Museum at Cauchie house. Eventually, Desiccy succeeded in turning the Magasins Waucquez into the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée .
The Cauchie house today
The basement containing the cellars and Paul Cauchie's workshop has been converted into a vast gallery, exhibiting photos, paintings and archive documents meticulously collected over the years by the Maison Cauchie ASBL. They illustrate the stages of the house restoration and the artistic activities of Paul and Lina Cauchie. The ground floor freed of the unfortunate alteration carried out by the successive occupants after Paul's death has recovered its original appearance. The two upper floors of the house have been converted into apartments and renovated in accordance with contemporary needs.