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Henri Verbuecken

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Watercolour signed and dated by Henri Verbuecken 1919
HENRI VERBUECKEN was born on October 17 th. 1848 in a well-to-do Antwerp family.
After completing his studies as a painter and interior decorator at the Royal Academies of Fine
and Applied Arts in both Antwerp and Paris, he undertook several study-trips including a
voyage to Egypt in 1872. Upon his return to Antwerp, or shortly thereafter, he founded his
proper studio as "Peintre-Decorateur", which in no time expanded to one of the largest, most
renowned "Ateliers" around the city, explaining of course the ever growing number of highly
skilled artisans being employed.
Largely influenced by earlier mid 19th Century English Neo-Gothicism, Verbuecken set out to
become the leading 'Interior Decorator' of his generation, wasting no time increasing his fine
reputation from a local to a national and eventually an international one.
In fact, between 1880 and 1890 he had been awarded several major prizes and gold medals
for his furniture originals at the World Fairs of Antwerp, Amsterdam, Brussels and London.
The extreme sense for detail and refinement in his to perfection driven creations, earned him
the respect and admiration of his peers and many wealthy 'High-Society' families alike, the last
of whom commissioned and entrusted him with the restructuring and decoration of their
valued interiors. The quality of the materials chosen, their uniqueness and handcrafted
ap p e al, cre ated a consistant demand by even the most conservat ive companies and
o rga n i z ations towa rds the end of the 19th Century, hereby cle a r ly dem o n s t rat i ng
Verbuecken's historical importance as a pioneer-craftsman and businessman. Being a brother
of the Antwerp Freemason Society, he became selectively appointed to decorate the entire
interior of the local Freemason Temple in Egyptian style,
between 1874 and 1875 and again through the years
1895 to 1898. (Demolished in 1982)
It was the Royal Society of Zoology (or better known as the
Antwerp Zoo) however, which gave him the opportunity to
develop some of his most remarkable creations to date in
collaboration with the young and ambitious architect,
Emile Van Averbeke. (1876-1946)
To some Verbuecken's contribution to the Antwerp Zoo will always be remembered for the
numerous mosaics he completed, the unique stained-glass windows he produced and foremost
the restauration and redecoration of the 'Egyptian Temple', for which he received wide
international acclaim.
Of course, Verbuecken's commitments to the Antwerp Zoo didn't stop him from accepting
several privately commissioned orders from Antwerp's wealthy Upper Class. As of 1877 he
designed and built his own house on the Rubensstraat, overlooking Antwerp's "Central Park".
The building's facade (demolished since WW II) was done in a neo-gothic manner, whereas the
interiors hosted a variety of exotic styles.
In 1896 he was responsible for the astounding interiors of the family Bracht's mansion,
(later Restaurant La Rade and now the "Eugene Van Mieghem" museum) on the Van Dijckkaai no.8, barely twenty meters from
Antwerp's posh harbourfront quayside.