Sometimes you just have to stand in front of a beautiful Art Nouveau building in Brussels on a sunny Saturday and wait for a little old man coming to talk to you. You might not understand every word he says because he speaks French (you not having been the best at it in school), but you will understand that he is trying to invite you in to see the house you’ve been gazing at for minutes until then. So off we went and – boy – was it worth it. Turns out he and his wife own the place and invite visitors to see the astonishing Art Nouveau living room just once a month.
Lucky us even got a personal guided tour from his wife and we learned that her husband was very close friends with Hergé, the father of comic book heros Tintin et Milou (Tin Tin and Snowy). Both wanting to set up an Hergé comic museum in the house when they discovered the Art Nouveau plastered walls in the living room while renovating. He then decided it would need to be restorated and shown to the public on its own without distracting comic strips on the wall.
The technique that was used is called Scraffito and can also be seen in other cities with Art Nouveau history such as Prague and Vienna. First layers of tinted plaster are applied to the walls or a moistened surface and then scratched so as to produce an outline drawing.