Growing up in a Loire Valley château gave Franco-American galeriste Flore de Brantes a taste for 18th-century French furniture. De Brantes polished up on the subject with stints at Christie’s New York and Sotheby’s London, then opened her first gallery in Paris’s Left Bank antiques haven in 1998, where her eclectic style soon included 19th-century and modernist pieces along with her Fine French Furniture collectibles. Now living in Brussels, she has opened a new gallery in an Art Nouveau landmark house designed by celebrated turn-of-the-century Brussels architect Ernest Blérot. Inside, it’s flashback and fast forward to her own signature potpourri—favorite Louis XVI chandeliers might hang above Chinese urns, contemporary painting and design art, ranging from Ian Davenport’s rainbow-hued Puddle Paintings to the distinctive limited-edition works by Paris designer Hervé van der Straeten.
Shown on her gallery’s stands at both the Brussels’ BRAFA and Maastricht’s formidable TEFAF art fairs, van der Straeten’s artistic visions result in such eye-defying creations as the Piercing console table, a mirror-polished stainless steel table with a bullet-shaped cutout, poised on red-lacquered wooden feet; and the convex Bubbling Mirror, dripping with Bohemian crystal balls. A master of mixing precious materials, he inserts gilt streaks across the center of the striking patinated-bronze Crack coffeetable, and his unique ebony-and-gilt bronze Cabinet Particule is inlaid with circles of violet wood. “When you look at Hervé’s works—the extreme quality, the precision and equilibrium—it’s obvious he started as a jeweler,” says de Brantes. “The results have a contemporary twist adapted to very French savoir-faire and craftsmanship. It’s no surprise that all the artisans in his workshop come from the Ecole Boulle.”
40 rue de la Vallée, Brussels. www.galerieflore.com
Originally published in the March 2012 issue of France Today