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Art circles in Antwerp, around the end of the 19th century

DE SCALDEN - Antwerp (1889-1914)

De Scalden 1889 The artistic cercle De Scalden was founded in 1889 and lead by the medallist Jules Baetes.
The initially had two objectives :
exhibitions of 'decorative art' and parades (artistic design of official parades and carnival parades).
The outbreak of World War I meant the end in 1914 for De Scalden.



De Scalden - stichtingsakte 1889  
Charter of Foundation from 1889
City Archives - Antwerpen

LETTER 25.04.1900

Brief van De Scalden aan Lodewijk Mortelmans  
Letter to Lodewijk Mortelmans
Source AMVC


Briefhoofd De Scalden


Affiche De Scalden 1898 Antwerpen 1902 Haarlem



Their first goal was to give the floats of the many stalls of that time a more artistic character. The first participation in a procession in 1889 was scalding with a group under the name Ons Voorgeslacht (Our Ancestors). It was the start of a number of successful participations in festive events for the club.
The Scalden rapidly grew into a real art association. Many students from the Antwerp art academy joined. They came from all possible different art directions and the association set itself the main goal of bringing art to the common man.
They moved at a time when the first innovations in the art world in Flanders started. In 1883, the The XX association had already arisen in Brussels, and Flanders with Antwerp in the lead were somewhat behind. A number of circles such as Wees Uzelf, Als ik kan, Arte et Labore, and L'association pour L'art indépendant were ahead of De Scalden, but were less able to really push through to the common people at that time.
1892 Praalwagen Landjuweel Rubenskring kunststoet De Noormannen De Vikings in de stoet
Images of Parade floats :
1892 - Parade float 'Landjuweel Rubenskring'
1892 - group photograph of art circle 'De Noormannen'
1892 - 'The Vikings in the Parade' with on the right Antoon Mortelmans  
stoet VanDijck cover 1899 - Album du Grand Cortège
Images on the occasion of the '300th anniversary of the birth of Antoon Van Dyck' :
1899 - The art through the Ages - De kunst door de Eeuwen Heen - L'art à travers les siècles
1899 - cover : booklet 'Album du Grand Cortège'
1899 Praalwagen Van Dyck, tekening Frans Proost 1899 Praalwagen Van Dyck, tekening Gerard Portielje 1899 Praalwagen Van Dyck, tekening Jules Baetes
three drawings of
Frans Proost - Italian Renaissance
Gerard Portielje - French Renaissance
Jules Baetes - Parade float Antigoon


De ScaldenAs a second objective, 'De Scalden' organized several exhibitions with works they described as 'Monumental, Decorative and Applied Art'. The exhibited works came from the ranks of the members of the circle, which was not a problem due to the large number of members and their diversity.
Unique regarding this circle certainly was their diversity. There were not only painters and sculptors, but also poets, writers, composers, leather manufacturers, decorators, blacksmiths, medallists, poster designers, architects, etc.




De Scalden verjaringsfeesten 1889-1909In general one can say that 'De Scalden' formed the bridge between the more traditional tendencies, and the first renewers. Unfortunately, the archive of the association has been lost.
 The reconstitution of its activities must be done by merging the fragmentary data that can still be found here and there. This is also achieved by opening up documents that are in private archives.
In 2005, the Leuven student Koen Legrand headed by his supervisor Dr. Chris Coppens in a fascinating licensing deal brought back 'De Scalden' to the forefront.
'With the yearbooks 'De Scalden' also entered the field of printing and the book.'
His summary is:
'Edmond van Offel clearly took the lion's share of the work as an initiator by providing drawings, poems, stories and ideological texts. It may be clear that 'De Scalden', with their yearbooks, not only wanted to promote the revaluation of the book but also put a whole range of other elements into it, such as ideology and folklore.’
Affiches De Scalden De Scalden Affiche 3e Tentoonstelling De Scalden Affiche 7e Tentoonstelling De Scalden Affiche 2e Tentoonstelling - Edward Pellens - AMVC  




More than 120 artists were members of The Scalden. We've listed some of them :
  • Albracht Willem
  • Anthone Jules
  • Audiens Arthur
  • Baeckelmans Lode
  • Baes Henri
  • Baetes Jules
  • Bascourt Jos
  • Buschmann Jos
  • Carpentier André
  • Colen Henri
  • Collens Karel
  • Cols August
  • Coppens Jan
  • De Beuckelaar Charles
  • De Boeck August
  • De Braey Michel
  • Deckers Eduard
  • Deckers Frans
  • De Cuyper Floris
  • De Mets Pieter
  • Delin Emile
  • Delrue Em.
  • De Meyere Victor
  • De Mont Pol
  • De Ridder P.
  • De Vos Dirk
  • Dierckx Floris
  • Dierckx Pieter
  • Dom Pol
  • Dupon Josue
  • Divoort Jos
  • Elliott George
  • Geleyn Jos
  • Gussenhoven Cornelis
  • Gussenhoven Jozef
  • Gogo Felix
  • Goossens Jos
  • Hanno Fritz
  • Hassall John
  • Hens Frans
  • Hofman Jules
  • Huyghelen Frans
  • Jacobs Jan
  • Jacobs Theo
  • Jochems Frans
  • Joors Eugene
  • Junse Jos
  • Koch Ferdinand
  • Leclercq R.
  • Mees Jerome
  • Muller Leopold
  • Mortelmans Antoon
  • Mortelmans Frans
  • Mortelmans Lodewijk
  • Ontrop Lodewijk
  • Pellens Edward
  • Pierre Arthur
  • Portielje Gerard
  • Posenaer Jozef
  • Proost Frans
  • Rosiers René
  • Rotthier Leon
  • Rudelsheim Marten
  • Stoffels ...
  • Vaes Walter
  • Van Averbeke Emiel
  • Van der Loo Marten
  • Van der Veken V.
  • Van De Woestijne Karel
  • Van Havermaet Charles
  • Van Langendonck Prosper
  • Van Mechelen Alexis
  • Van Mieghem Eugeen
  • Van Neste Alfred
  • Van Offel Constant
  • Van Offel Edmond
  • Van Wijck J.
  • Verhees Lodewijk
  • Vloors Emile
  • ...
Leden van De Scalden
Image : from left to right :
Frans Mortelmans, Charles Van Havermaet, Leopold Muller, Jan Coppens, Jerome Mees, Jos Goossens, Jules Baetes
(© ADVN Antwerpen)
Around 1900, the art circle 'De Kapel' also arose in Antwerp, in which various Scalden were also actively involved.




Besides the yearbooks, some unique Scalden books are known, intended for one particular artist :
(the oldest known book by 'De Scalden') - as a result of his First prize of Rome (book in private possession)
resp.: sculptor (book in private possession) , and writer-poet (book in possession of AMVC), following their appointment as 'Knight in the Leopold Order'
The chairman of the first hour (Prentenkabinet - Antwerpen)
1903 Huldenboek Josue Dupon
1903 - Homage Book to Josué Dupon
Jules Baetes - 1894
Jules Baetes :
Bronz medall
Leopold II, King of Belgians
1894 - Antwerp Exhibition



Their edition of 16 yearbooks between 1897 and 1912, all remarkable, different in size and content are among the toppers in Flemish book art and were always bound in a special way.
For this, Edmond Van Offel was the most important mentor. The calendars, songbooks, poetry collections (amongst which of Pol de Mont), collections of tales, fairy tales, proverbs and humor were richly illustrated with original woodcuts, lithographs and drawings by members.
An important objective of the yearbooks was to present what she, De Scalden, described as community art, this is a form of art created by various artists (literary, visual, decorative) and accessible to everyone.
Edmond van Offel, as an example, presents the gothic cathedrals where the builders, the workmen, the sculptors and the painters produced art for common use: beautiful buildings where the gregorian chants resounded under the perfect arches and where the colorful cartoons in the stained glass windows are accessible to everyone goods.
How 'De Scalden' have shaped this objective, we see in the yearbooks. Because of their content and design, binding and binding, we get a harmonious collaboration between artist and craftsman: a 'Gesamtkunstwerk' as often in the Jugendstil was pursued.
6e Jaarboek De ScaldenThe beautifully executed 6th yearbook, was a posthumous biography of Karel Collens by Edmond van Offel. The yearbook is nicely bound in a linen band, with in two submerged compartments a text written in bas-relief sculpturally: 'K. Collens. The Scalden '. The book has a large oblong format (220x260mm) and can be tied with two ribbons.
The first and second yearbook of 'De Scalden' still show no homogeneity and were more a bundling of separate contributions without a bearing theme, with both classic and modern illustrations.
The third, fourth and last yearbook were published as a calendar and are stylistically homogeneous. Because these yearbooks could effectively be used as a calendar, they fit in well with 'De Scalden's' aim to revalue applied art. By publishing these calendars in book form, they were also able to include many artistic contributions.
In the first calendar yearbook from 1899, the months were beautifully framed by various artists. In these edges often visual elements are processed that illustrate the period of the year. The yearbook is classified according to the four seasons with pictures that evoke the atmosphere of the current season. These 'frames' became a recurring element in all the yearbooks and completely fit in the art nouveau fashion of the time. They also sometimes referred to the Kelmscott Press style of William Morris (1834-1896), but the design was freer, less rigid than Morris.
Folklore was a dominant theme in many yearbooks. Here we see with certainty the influence of Pol de Mont (1857-1931), who played an important role in the ideology of 'De Scalden'. De Mont was a pioneer of folklore and of the revaluation of the popular heritage in Flanders. For De Mont, folklore was more than just a study. She was an 'integral part of the awakening consciousness of the Flemish people, she fitted within the framework of striving for a higher culture, through better knowledge of Flemish traditions and customs, through the extraction of lost treasures, the preservation and honor love everything that went back to the past of the own tribe'.
Edmond van Offel took care of the expenses of the yearbooks. He was the editor, the compiler and he also produced a lot of visual work and copy. He was also very interested in folklore. Not only under the influence of Pol de Mont, but also under the influence of his father who had done important work in this area. He had left entire folders of notes in which he described the Antwerp of his time. Edmond Van Offel edited these writings into the book 'Father tells'.
The seventh yearbook is all about children's stories. Children's tales consist of ten stories for children, four of which were written and illustrated by Edmond van Offel. 'De Scalden' counted the young people to their audience and wanted to bring them the better children's tale.
The eighth yearbook from 1905 brings Old and New Folk songs with a nationalistic touch. The Lied 'Houdt u fier' [Stay proud] is illustrated with a knight who waves a Flemish Lion flag.
A Flemish Lion is included in the title initial 'H'. This 'Houdt u fier' is a new song composed by the Scalden member Lodewijk Mortelmans on text from Pol de Mont, who also took the initiative for the composition of this book.
The eleventh yearbook from 1908 is a collection of Flemish proverbs. The layout of this beautiful work is tighter and follows the style of William Morris. Van Offel compiled and provided two illustrations. The choice of proverbs was determined by their visualisability and their interesting historical and folkloristic sources.
The sixteenth and last yearbook appeared in 1912, again with a strong folkloristic slant: The people's house and its decoration, Folkloric study by Victor de Meyere. Victor de Meyere (1873-1938) was one of the most important Antwerp folklorists. In this yearbook he tries to bring a picture of a Flemish people's house with all attributes and customs, in order to interpret the individuality of the Flemish people. Due to the outbreak of the First World War this sixteenth yearbook was also the last.
Source De Jaarboeken : Tiecelijn, 20, 2007 - pages.7-8
Sources : LFM, ADVN, AMVC, Raymond Vervliet,, Eugeen Van Mieghemmuseum Antwerpen, Willy Feliers, Tiecelijn, 20, 2007 blz.7-8


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