Bruges in photochrom


Maison du France.

I’ve looked through the Library of Congress collection of photochrom prints many times but somehow never noticed the 20 or so prints of Bruges until now. The Belgian Symbolists recorded their fascination with the Belgian town in paintings, drawings, photographs and Georges Rodenbach’s novel, Bruges-la-Morte (1892). The latter came illustrated by photographs that showed the town’s depopulated streets and empty canals, an early example of a novel using photography to support its text. Rodenbach’s photographs are all black-and-white, of course, and not the greatest quality (see this copy of the book). These photochrom prints may not be strictly accurate in their colours but they date from the same period as Rodenbach’s pictures; they also contain much more detail, and many of them replicate Rodenbach’s views. The ones here show the canals and gates but the library archive includes several views of the squares and the famous medieval Belfry of Bruges.


St. Croix Gate.


Ghent Gate.

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L’Image, 1896–1897


L’Image was a short-lived French publication dedicated to the art of contemporary wood engraving. Short-lived it may have been but its position at the birth of Art Nouveau means that many of its smaller graphics have been recycled ever since in studies of the period. One of these graphics, a fleuron by Jean-Jacques Drogue, was the subject of an earlier post when I was tracing the origin of a motif used for many years by my colleagues at Savoy Books. I eventually found Drogue’s fleuron in a collection of rather poor scans at Gallica, a good resource but one whose web interface (and often the materials themselves) leaves much to be desired.


All the images here are from a collection of the entire run of L’Image at the Internet Archive which are much better quality and which include the early issues missing from Gallica. The most notable thing about the earlier issues is the way they combine the Art Nouveau style with Symbolist art; in addition to an engraving by Carlos Schwabe that I hadn’t seen before there’s a very Symbolist piece about nocturnal Bruges featuring art by Georges de Feure.



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The nocturnes of William Degouve de Nuncques


The Blind House (1892).

William Degouve de Nuncques (1867–1935) is one of the less well-known Belgian Symbolists but one with a place in art history for the picture above. The mysterious atmosphere of The Blind House (often labelled as The Shuttered House, The Pink House or even The House of Mysteries) was admired by René Magritte who inverted the apparent conjunction of night and day in his own Empire of Lights series. Degouve de Nuncques’ other pictures from this period possess a similar quality of nocturnal mystery, a predilection he shared with other Belgian artists such as Léon Spilliaert and Paul Delvaux. Many of these pictures are pastels, a popular medium among the Symbolists for its nebulous effects.


In Venice (1895).


The Black Swan (1896).

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Angkor panoramas


Ta Phrom by Rob van Gils.

A Cambodian architecture post by Will from 50 Watts sent me to 360 Cities for some panoramic views of the temples of Angkor and environs. I always prefer the sight of these places in their weed-infested state even though all those weeds and tree roots were slowly destroying the stonework. For more recent photos, John McDermott’s site has many beautiful infra-red views of the temples and their statuary. (Click on the Fine Art section.)


Naga at Angkor Wat – Siem Riap, Cambodia by


Angkor by Vasiliy Nikitenko.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The panoramas archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Temples of Bagan
The temples of Angkor

Sedlec Ossuary panoramas


A couple of panoramic views from the celebrated Sedlec Ossuary in the Cemetery Church of All Saints at Sedlec, Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The quality of these isn’t as good as some of the panoramas I’ve linked to in the past but they help give an idea of the crypt which is now a World Heritage site. Jan Svankmajer enthusiasts should be familiar with the bone sculptures from his 1970 film, The Ossuary, which can be found on the BFI’s Svankmajer DVD set.

Sedlec Ossuary at Flickr


Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The panoramas archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Karel Plicka’s views of Prague