In this elegant 18th-century town house with its picturesque garden the work of the versatile British artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) is on display on the top floor. Brangwyn was both a graphic artist and a painter, as well as a designer of carpets, furniture and ceramics. The ground floor is the setting for temporary plastic art exhibitions.
The top floor shows Frank Brangwyn’s phenomenal artistic versatility. His work belonged to many different schools: social realism, Vienna Secession, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and modernism. He painted with oils, tempera, and watercolors, was a prominent graphic artist, and, influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, also designed furniture, stained-glass windows, and even jewelry. Downstairs, the Groeninge museum organizes temporary exhibitions.
The collection is the result of two donations. Englishman John Steinmetz (1795-1883) left the museum his collection of over 17,000 prints and drawings when he died. When the City obtained Arentshuis in 1909, these formed the basis for a print gallery. In 1936, English artist Frank Brangwyn also donated a large portion of his oeuvre to the city of his birth.
This neoclassical building from the last quarter of the 18th century owes its name to its last private owner, Aquilin Arents de Beerteghem. The porch, with its four palm-leaf capital columns, and various Egyptian Empire-style elements that were added later bear witness to the egyptomania that was so popular at the time it also reached Bruges. They probably date from Napoleon Bonaparte’s visit to Bruges in 1810.
The ground floor of the beautiful 18th century Arentshuis is entirely given over to temporary art exhibitions that are connected to the Groeninge collection, such as the fine collection of prints and drawings from the Steinmetzkabinet. The top floor is devoted to the work of the versatile Bruges-born British artist, Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956). He painted lively, realistic scenes in which he depicted the industrial life of the docks and factories and the hard labor of the workers. He also recorded his many travel experiences on canvas in colorful watercolors and engravings, and designed furniture and carpets.