While living in the UK in the 90s, my husband and I became fans of Belgian Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta. Behold this stairwell in the home he designed for Emile Tassel, regarded by many as the first Art Nouveau building:
Happily Horta’s own Brussels home, now the Horta Museum, is in superb condition and we were able to take a tour during one visit to the city. (If there’s a lovelier radiator anywhere in the world than in Horta’s house, I’d like to see it. I can’t find a photo of it online, but I’m perfectly serious. But I digress.)
A few years ago, on a trip to London, we were ambling through a small gallery off Kensington Square, and I stopped short in front of a gorgeous miniature reproduction of what I instantly recognized as the facade to Horta’s home:
It turns out to be a bookend, one of a stunning series of architectural minatures by the British artist Timothy Richards. From his website:
“Tim has been making models of architecture in plaster for 19 years. All of the sculptures are made by hand by Tim and his small, dedicated team. The work is believed to be unique in the world today. Central to the theme is that of architectural truth. Tim aims to use his love of architecture and model making skills to tell the story of architecture over the centuries. Some of the models are designed to be used as bookends. Others as stand alone collectors pieces. Of course it’s entirely up to you how you use them (though not as a door stop please!).”
Needless to say, Horta – or at least his small facade – came home with us. We’ve since acquired a miniature Big Ben (we do like visual puns). I hope to add a few others to my collection going forward, including the V&A:
And perhaps Oscar Wilde’s house:
And maybe even Jane Austen’s door:
In any case, do have a wander through Richards’ site. The single-door bookends are reasonably priced (the models, double-bookend sets and more complex designs are accordingly priced) and make spectacular and unique gifts (particularly for oneself).
Oh thank you! I do love finding fun little things. We’ve been to the Glasgow School, the repro of CRM’s home, and the Willow Tea Rooms (most uncomfortable chairs EVER, but they’re stunning). Maybe you can get the bookend and just display it; our Horta is on a mantle. xo
You find the coolest stuff EVER. I am now going to lust after the Charles Rennie Macintosh door to the Glasgow Art Center (which I saw in person 20 years ago) bookend. Unfortunately, I’d have to get rid of a few books on the bookshelf to make room for it! xo
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