The Japanese Tower at the Royal Domain in Laeken: A remarkable application of Japanese lacquer techniques in Belgium

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Delphine Mesmaeker;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup3, p.109-116 (2016)


The Japanese Tower, commissioned by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1900 and designed by the French architect Alexandre Marcel, was finished and inaugurated in 1904. This building presents a remarkable variety of decorative techniques and materials, including Japanese lacquer executed using specific and complex decorative techniques. Preliminary research on the interior decorations allowed the rediscovery and highlighting of a large and unique collection of lacquerwork and architectural Japanese ornaments from the Edo and Meiji period, combined with European artefacts. This paper focuses on the study of the extensive use of Japanese lacquer found in the upper floors of the Tower. This focus was facilitated by collaboration with other specialists, which granted a better understanding of the secrets of this extraordinary piece of cultural heritage and the development of a preservation plan for the interior decoration.