Stitching for a Place at the Public Space: The Needle Arts at the 1903 Brussels Salon

  • Wendy Wiertz (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


In 1903 the Salon des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, one of the most visited Salons in Belgium, included for the first time a section, art appliqué (Bruxelles 1903, 1903). In this section, the needle arts, mainly embroidery and tapestry, were shown beside wood and metal work, glass and ceramics. Fifteen of the participating 32 professional and amateur women artists displayed objects made by needle. The most well-known and appreciated needle artist among them, Hélène De Rudder (1869-1962), showed her monumental series ‘The Four Seasons’ (Brussels, Museums of the City). Each of the four panels in the series has a rich iconography and is made through a combination of different embroidery techniques. In 1904, the City of Brussels bought the series for the office of Education in the City Hall. This paper will address two main questions: How does the inclusion of the applied arts at the Brussels Salon play a part in the rising appreciation of the applied arts? To what extent did it negotiate a place in the art world for De Rudder and the other women artists? To answer the first question, I briefly discuss the reception of the applied arts in Belgium and Western Europe before turning to De Rudder’s ‘The Four Seasons,’ its material, iconographical and stylistic aspects, the reception of the series, and her biography. These findings will be compared to the reception of other exhibited objects, and the biographies of the participating women. By combining the material objects, primary and secondary sources, I will show how De Rudder and other women negotiated a place for themselves in the public space by stitching (Daly Goggin, 2009, 3).
Period5 Nov 2015
Event titleUniversities Art Association of Canada/Association d’art des universités du Canada 2015 Conference/congrès 2015
Event typeConference
LocationHalifax, Canada, Nova ScotiaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational