A TALENTED AMATEUR ARTIST
In 1872 Antonine de Mun (1849-1931) married her cousin Joseph d’Ursel (1848-1903). It was, unusually for the time, a love marriage. Due to the premature death of his half-brother Joseph unexpectedly became the sixth Duke d’Ursel and his wife Antonine the sixth Duchess. Every summer they would come with their four children to stay at Hingene Castle, the family’s favourite summer residence.
Antonine was a talented amateur artist. Over the course of her life she made a great number of oil paintings, drawings, sketches and watercolours. She made portraits not just of her family and friends but also of the servants and even her own ancestors.
THE ARTIST’S ATELIER
In 1878 Antonine had a painting studio, or atelier, built in a remote corner of the castle grounds. The brick building consisted of a basement, a main floor and an attic, topped by stepped gables and a saddleback roof of Flemish tiles. On old photographs you can hardly see the entrance for the wild creeper covering the façade.
The main floor, a big open space with a wooden floor and a high ceiling, made the ideal studio. A large window on the north façade ensured the penetration of a fine, steady light.
For nearly fifty years this place was greatly beloved by Antonine, her family and friends.
Antonine died in 1931 aged 82. After standing empty for ten years or so her atelier became successively a Scout Hall, an emergency reception centre for the 1953 floods and finally a functions room for the local brass band. Plans to turn it into a tearoom came to nothing and the atelier sank into a deep sleep, only occasionally broken by playing children, loitering youths or vandals.
In 1994 the Province of Antwerp acquired the old ducal domain. Priority was first given to restoring the castle and park but now the atelier is also being given a new lease of life as a stylish holiday home. The basement and attic have been converted into four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The former atelier on the main floor is now an open kitchen and living room with a view out on to the park.
The refurbishing of Antonine’s Atelier was not included in the restoration budget. To make up the shortfall we arranged for Den Triest, a craft brewery in Kapelle-op-den-Bos, to create two unique beers using ingredients from the estate. To decorate the labels we used the portraits that Antonine made of her younger sisters Alix and Marie.