KEY, Lieven de
(b. ca. 1560, Gent, d. 1627, Haarlem)

Exterior view

Stadhuis, Leiden

At the end of the 16th century urban administration in Ghent had expanded so much that a new city hall (Stadhuis) was required. The Flemish architect Lieven de Key, who served Haarlem as municipal architect, designed a new façade in 1594 (restored after a fire in 1929).

Key's work in Ghent is one of the richest examples of Dutch Mannerist architecture. The façade is surmounted at eaves level by a balustrade punctuated by ball pinnacles along its entire length; the central section with its monumental entrance is accentuated by a stepped gable adorned with strapwork and obelisks. The façade was erected in 1597 by the Bremen mason and stone dealer Lüder von Bentheim, who probably made some alterations to de Key's design. This can be inferred from the projecting rusticated blocks, a popular feature in the German Renaissance. The heavily decorated bands that de Key used repeatedly in his later works are lacking here.

The dyke-reeve's offices also required more space, and the present building in the Breestraat was reconstructed in 1596 and 1663. The tower of the town hall dates from 1599 and was not designed by de Key, although in 1604 the façade was extended to the east by eight bays in his style.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.