POELAERT, Joseph
(b. 1817, Bruxelles, d. 1879, Laeken)

General view

1866-83
Photo
Palace of Justice, Brussels

Joseph Poelaert, the first prominent Belgian architect, developed the Palace of Justice in Brussels from a sensibility for Neoclassical language. Today it can be debated whether this building represents the first and last expression of monumental Neoclassicism in Belgium, or it is a Neo-Baroque building and therefore already part of the Historicist trend. The palace's pompous staircase, with sculptures attired in Roman robes supports the Neoclassical case. The lively exterior, on the other hand, featuring building masses that project and recede as well as columns, pilasters, and portals, marks it out as a Neo-Baroque structure. Whatever the case, Poelaert's Palace of Justice in Brussels became one of the most influential buildings in Europe.