DEWEZ, Laurent-Benoît
(b. 1731, Petit-Rechain, d. 1812, Groot-Bijgaarden)

Biography

Laurent-Benoît (also Laurentius Benedictus) Dewez, Flemish architect. He is considered the most influential architect in the Austrian Netherlands (present-day Belgium) from the second half of the 18th century. His architectural projects are of international stature and introduced a Neoclassical style, with Italian and English influences, to the region. He designed a large number of châteaux, abbeys and churches in southern Netherlands, many of which were damaged after the French Revolution.

The abbot of the Abbey of Saint Hubert sent Dewez on a study trip to Italy. There he worked with Luigi Vanvitelli and came into contact with Robert Adam, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Johann Joachim Winckelmann and Charles-Louis Clérisseau. After a subsequent study trip to Split in company of Robert Adam he worked briefly as an associate of the Adam brothers in London in 1758. In 1759 he came back to the Austrian Netherlands to start the rebuilding of Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval, a work which was never completed.

In 1760 he settled in Brussels. He mainly worked for abbeys and nobility in the Austrian Netherlands. In 1767 he was appointed court architect to the Governor of the Austrian Netherlands, Charles-Alexandre de Lorraine for whom he built the Castle of Mariemont which was demolished in the aftermath of the French revolution. A masterpiece still preserved today is the Château de Seneffe built between 1763 and 1768. His last great project was the new State Prison in Vilvoorde.