History and museums
The Stoclet Palace (French: Palais Stoclet, Dutch: Stocletpaleis) is a mansion in Brussels, Belgium. It was built by architect Josef Hoffmann for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet between 1905 and 1911 and is located in the Woluwe-Saint-Pierre area of Brussels. Considered Hoffman's masterpiece, the Stoclet's house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century.
The mansion is still occupied by the Stoclet family and is not open to visitors. It was designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO in June 2009.
The Stoclet Palace was commissioned by Adolphe Stoclet (1871-1949), a wealthy industrialist and art collector. He chose 35-year-old Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956), a founder member of the Vienna Secession, a radical group of designers and artists established in 1897. Hoffman abandoned fashions and styles of the past and produced a building that is an asymmetrical compilation of rectangular blocks, underlined by exaggerated lines and corners.
The starkness of the exterior is softened by artistic windows, which break through the line of the eaves, the rooftop conservatory and bronze sculptures of four nude males by Franz Metzner, which are mounted on the tower that rises above the stairwell. Regimented upright balustrades line the balconies, touched with Art Nouveau ornamentation.
The Stoclet Palace was the first residential project for the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), co-founded by Hoffman in 1903. Josef Hoffman and his colleagues designed every aspect of the mansion, down to the door handles and light fittings. The interior is as spartan as the exterior, with upright geometric furniture and minimal clutter. This was an avant-garde approach, presenting a 'reformed interior' where function dictated form. The interior of the building is decorated with marble paneling and artworks, including mosaic friezes by Gustav Klimt and murals by Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel. The integration of architects, artists, and artisans makes Stoclet Palace an example of a Gesamtkunstwerk, one of the defining characteristics of Jugendstil. Klimt's sketches for the dining room are in the permanent collection of the Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK) in Vienna.
The Stoclet Palace is on Avenue de Tervueren in the municipality of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Brussels. The building was designed to appear from the road as a stately city mansion. Seen from the garden at the back the Stoclet Palace "becomes a villa suburbana with its rear façade sculpturally modelled by bay windows, balconies and terraces" in the words of architectural historian Annette Freytag, which gave the Stoclet family a building with "all the advantages of a comfortable urban mansion and a country house at the same time."
Adolphe Stoclet died in 1949, and the house was inherited by his daughter-in-law Annie Stoclet. Following Annie's death in 2002, the house was inherited by her four daughters. The Palais Stoclet is currently not open to the public. Press reports have described the house as being looked after by two caretakers while there is dissension between Stoclet's four granddaughters as to the future of the Palais Stoclet.