The term sgraffito originates from the Italian word “sgraffitto” meaning “scratched”. Sgraffito is the name of a forgotten technique which came back into fashion at the end of the 19th century. A layer of light-coloured mortar is applied upon a dark coating (lime, sand and charcoal). The design which is subsequently engraved into the top light-coloured layer reveals the coat of black mortar beneath. The incision captures every detail of the design and these outlines are then painted.
As it is a fairly inexpensive technique, sgraffito is very popular because of the infinite design possibilities which enable property owners to personalise their property according to their personality.
Sgraffito is part of our European heritage. The most beautiful examples can be found in Art Nouveau. Those of Paul Cauchie adorn old Belgian town centres and help us to gain an insight into the esthetic, cultural, and social concerns of an era. Those that he designed and created for his house are of exceptional beauty.
The sgraffiti covering virtually the entire façade represent the allegories of the arts. The hues, such as the ochre ranging from the colour of sand to burnt earth, or perhaps the subtle blue varying to a stony grey colour, blend in well with the building materials used for the façade.
In the front room on the ground floor, sgraffiti provide a continuous wall decoration on the theme of the five senses. The feminine figures, in which we can distinguish a Pre-Raphaelite influence, are portrayed as languorous, delicate, and willowy. They are adorned with long hair tied back by a rose, and are either standing, sitting or kneeling in order to adapt to the geometrical layout of the furniture.