Monday, February 01, 2010

Back from BRAFA

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Brussels thanks to a trip sponsored by the Belgian Tourist Office and BRAFA. BRAFA, for those who don't know (and I didn't know until quite recently), is the Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair, a show that has been in existence for 55 years.

The show really was quite impressive. There was 20th c. furniture, 18th c. clocks, ancient African art, contemporary art, porcelain, and silver. There were booths with simple backdrops against which the art and antiques were the stars, while others were decorated like rooms- chic rooms, mind you. I'll stop talking now because words really can't do the show justice. You've just got to see the pieces for yourselves.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about this beautiful chandelier. Still, it was too fetching not to show. (Mullendorf Antiques)

It's that metal buckled strap that absolutely makes this mirror. In this photo and the one below, you can see the gorgeous wooden paneled walls. These were made in the 1920s for a reception room of the "Compagnie Maritime Belge" and were inspired by the Congo. The frieze at the top is carved with African motifs. (Mullendorff Antiques)

I was so taken with the shape of these chairs, and that blue velvet looks fantastic next to those red nesting tables. (Mullendorf Antiques)

One of my favorite booths at the show, Gerald Watelet's (shown in the three photos above) is one that I think especially appeals to those with a design bent. The vignettes were meant to evoke a stylish woman's pied à terre.

I realize that the garden stool craze has run its course, but I was really tempted by these tasseled blue and white stools. I also think the planter in the second photo is pretty terrific.

Another favorite booth was that of Jacques Nève . Truth be told, I've never thought a great deal about antique clocks...until I saw these beauties. The first example, an
au bon sauvage mantel clock, is "L'Amerique" (French, c. 1799-1803) and depicts America as a native woman with a feather headdress and skirt and a crocodile amongst her feet. Note too the palm tree. You should visit Mr. Nève's website because I think you'll become as smitten with these clocks as I.

I guess I should have taken notes because I can't remember the purpose of these acanthus leaves with cherub faces. I do know, though, that they were made of gleaming sterling silver.

A gold and gem encrusted statue by Johann Friedrich Kohler, Dresden, c. 1720

A vignette at Axel Vervoordt.

I think it was this console's snakeskin top that caught my eye. (Galerie Jean-Jacques Dutko)

At first glance I thought this was a screen, but then I noticed the ring pulls. This folding door is by Pierre Dunand, c. 1950. (Galerie Jean-Jacques Dutko)

I had to take a photo of this painting as it reminded me Billy Baldwin's famous dog painting.

A most unusual peacock chair.

The booth of Honourable Silver Objects was another that was decorated with vignettes. This shot makes me want to go tablescape something.

(For more information on BRAFA, please visit their website. To learn more about visiting Belgium, go to the Belgian Tourist Office's site.)

All photos by Jennifer Boles


  1. Wow!!! I want to be there!!! What a beautiful things!!!

  2. What a great trip! I loved living vicariously through you. You definitely have amazing taste. Thanks so much!

  3. Jennifer, thank you for taking us to Belgium with you and a post full of surprising objets. I had the same epiphany about clocks.. never gave them much thought before but these are glorious.

  4. What a terrific opportunity. We are certainly glad you are back.

    And, I still like garden stools.

  5. John T9:54 AM

    Another great post! In general, did the dealers show prices? I always steered clients away from Axel Vervoodt at the NYC show because of his practice of quoting a price only after sizing up the customer. Or at least that always seemed to be the case.

  6. What a wonderful opportunity! Thanks for sharing some of what you saw! Janell

  7. Wish we could have all attended together!

  8. John- In general, no they didn't. But, I attended on Press Day which was the day before the show actually started. Perhaps prices appeared on the first day of the show.

  9. J --

    I really love the mix of sculpture and art that you captured in Gerald Watelet's booth. Very cool snakeskin table also, oh and the buckled strap on the mirror!

  10. I love the snakeskin is gorgeous...I keep going back to take another look! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Jennifer,
    I so agree with you about the blue velvet chairs and the red side tables. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Hope you got an opportunity to experience Jeu de Bal marche. I lived near Brussles, and drove in almost every morning for the antique hunt.

    Marjorie au "Chemin des Muguets"

  13. Great post, Jennifer. I remember Vervoordt's shop in Antwerp on drives down from Amsterdam - it was a real, if intimidating, destination for us. Love the clock - nearly as good as mine. Not that I'm showing off ...

  14. Love the clocks. Looks like it was a great trip. Thanks for the pictures


  15. Welcome back home! What a fabulous trip!! I an thinking of finishing my nesting tables in a deep red.

  16. Wow! A true feast for the eyes. Amazing images from a wonderful trip!

  17. I agree, the most beautiful city sight can be a wrought iron railing...Fabulous blog!

  18. my god, the rich colors and layers of texture!!! i think i am literally salivating.

  19. Mullendorf has always a nice stand, and he's a very nice person. We're always invited to his walking dinners. Always a perfect night.

    Brafa was nice indeed :-)