Urban bourgeois interiors as playgrounds for historically inspired styles, in search of national identity (Belgium, 1850-1913)

Het gebruik van historisch geïnspireerde stijlen in het stedelijke burgerlijke interieur: de zoektocht naar een (nationale) identiteit (België, 1850-1913)
Start - End 
2021 - 2024 (ongoing)



This research aims to illuminate and explain two seemingly contradictory types of ‘period room’ in private bourgeois homes in
Belgium during the second half of the 19th century – namely, the French salon and the neo-(Flemish) Renaissance dining room (or its gothic alternative). It will do so in relation to Belgium as a newlycreated nation state within Europe and the process of creating a national identity. The primary research goal is to determine to what extent these historical styles were inspired by local or European design and what socio-cultural significance they contained, as they were used to conjointly stress social status, cultural heritage, standards of taste or gender differentiation between rooms, within a newly emerging middle class. We also want to understand to what extent the private interior can be seen as an externalization of sociopolitical and identity concerns, in their promotion by government and market. Finally, we investigate the urge of the bourgeoisie / middle class for a personalised, intimate and tasteful ‘home’ within a setting of mass production and urbanisation. Subsequently, the hitherto underexplored role of these styles within contemporary society and their materiality, meaning to what extent and why they were produced and applied in the urban private Belgian home, will be examined and compared to the broader European context.



Phd Student(s)


Werner Adriaenssens

KMKG & VUB, Kunstwetenschappen