Affiches Belle Epoque

9 May 2018 > 3 September 2018

A unique collection

From 1885 until around 1914, Brussels experienced one of the most prosperous periods of its history. This prosperity was not confined to economic, social, political,
technological, or urban development, but also included the cultural domain, which particularly flourished. The emergence of artistic circles and Art Nouveau gave the
Belgian capital an important position in European creativity.

Illustrated advertisements, which appeared in all their fantasy in the 1870-1880 period, found immediate appeal in Brussels. Artists, both famous and obscure,
happily tried their hands at this new art form. They were seduced by its ephemeral nature and technical challenges, and excited by the possibilities it offered to
colour the city and its suburbs. Carrying advertising messages, these posters heralded the arrival of the consumer society. They showcased a multitude of
products, from biscuits to cars, through chocolate, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, telephones and bikes, not to mention the circus and art performances. Artists focused on the image of the middle-class, liberated woman of the era, who appeared as the torchbearer of this craving for luxury and modernity.

Punctuated by Universal Exhibitions, it was a time of emulation and one-upmanship, not only by the artists but also Brussels’ printers. They learnt the techniques of colour lithography and, technically speaking, were every bit as good as their Parisian counterparts.

Ernest De Try, a man, a collection
During the Belle Époque, there was an immense passion for posters, creating a phenomenon of “affichomanie” or “poster mania”, and enthusiasts like Ernest de Try amassed impressive collections. In 1934, he donated over 300 posters to the Archives of the City of Brussels. Whatever his motivation for assembling his collection, it is clearly distinguished by exceptional attention to daily life, with Brussels as its main focus.

Ernest de Try was born in Brussels in 1881 and died there in 1960. In 1906, he left
for Africa, where he developed a range of projects as an investor, trusted middle-man and administrator. A man of business as well as the press, he established and ran newspapers, and corresponded with their European counterparts.
As a consultant engineer, he submitted several patents for inventions and improvements in the field of prefabricated construction. By 1929,
his activities in the colonies had come to an end and, from then on, he devoted himself above all to literature and poetry, a passion he had enjoyed
since his youth.

The de Try collection has never been presented to the public as an ensemble. However, for conservation reasons, the items of this exhibition are shown mainly
through facsimiles. They reflect the extraordinary profusion and variety of posters on the streets at the time. Around twenty framed originals showcase the beauty and subtlety of the lithographic inks used during that period. An original soundtrack featuring pieces of music from the Belle Époque accompanies visitors around the exhibition. This was created by Marc Danval.


For kids
Colours, drawings, techniques, a fun visit is designed especially for children from 7 to 12 years.

Guided tours of the exhibition
€ 75,00 (week) / € 90,00 (weekend) + € 6,00/person (admission)


Weekend of finishing 

Saturday 01.09.18
At 10.00 and 2.00 pm: Kitchen litho Workshop: the participants use equipement and ustensils available in a kitchen and make the lithographic technique much simpler and accessible to everyone. (Workshop in French, trilingual worksheet).
The lithography uses a block of fine-grained limestone, in the dimensions desired for the poster. The artist draws on this block using a greasy substance. They then wash the stone with an acid solution an apply ink using a roller. The printer firmly presses a sheet of paper on top of the stone to obtain the reproduction of the drawing.

From 8 year-old (duration +/- 2 hours)
Admission : 12€
The workshop will take place at Vanderborght (Rue de l'Ecuyer 50, 1000 Brussels)

Reservation required (limited places) before August 30: serviceeducatif@brucity.be

Sunday 02.09.18
At 15.00: Guided tour of the exhibition. Access to the museum and guided tours are free on the first Sunday of the month.
At 16:30: Sale of posters of the exhibition in fac-similes (price and payment: soon)

Reservation required (limited places) before August 30: serviceeducatif@brucity.be