Adrienne Fontainas passes away


19/12/10 – Obituary The Art Tribune learned of Adrienne Fontainas’ passing with great sadness. She died on 15 December 2010 in Brussels at the age of 81. A well-known figure in museum and university circles of varied disciplines (arts, literature, music), Adrienne Fontainas who was an erudite, a collector and an eminent bibliophile all in one, never refused her help, or her loans, to anyone who asked. _ The daughter of the playwright Armand Thibaut de Maizieres, related to Fernand Khnopff and, though more distantly, to Ferdinand Rops, as well as to Emile Verhaeren and the Symbolist poet Andre Fontainas through her husband, she possessed a thorough and sensitive knowledge of the late 19th century and all of its artistic expressions. The author of various essays (including “Odilon Redon and his Belgian friends” published in the collective work Belgium, the Golden Decades 1880-1910, directed by Jane Block in New York, 1977), as well as several remarkable translations into French of exhibition catalogues, Adrienne Fontainas was above all the author of several reference works on the history of books and its ties to the plastic arts in Belgium. She wrote notably, in collaboration with her husband, Luc Fontainas, the invaluable monograph on the book dealer, and Mallarme’s editor in Brussels, Edmond Deman, Art et edition au tournant du siècle, prefaced by Alan Raitt (Brussels, Labor, 1997, Communaute francaise de Belgique prize), the catalogue raisonne of Theo van Rysselberghe’s typographical ornaments (Pandora, 1997) and, in 1999, with a preface by Francois Chapon, the catalogue for Publications de la librairie Deman published by the Archives et Musee de la literature.
A trustee of the Andre Fontainas estate after the death of Anne-Romaine, the poet’s daughter, she succeed in adding these important archives as well as a reconstitution of the “Cabinet Fontainas” to the invaluable holdings at the Universite Libre de Brussels a few years ago. A highly knowledgeable music lover, Adrienne Fontainas was also interested in illustrated scores ; in 2002 she staged a fascinating exhibition in collaboration with Malou Haine at the Bibliotheca Wittockiana (Quelques notes de musique et d’amitie…), displaying major pieces from her own collection as well as many prestigious loans. Vice-president of the Association Internationale de Bibliophile, for which she had successfully organized, quite recently and with great courage, its annual convention in Belgium, unanimously acknowledged as an eminent book historian, Adrienne Fontainas always made a lasting impression on people ; along with her knowledge, her professionalism and her exquisite kindness, she was known for her enthusiasm, daring (she was still hang-gliding when she was 75), her youthful spirit and a contagious “joie de vivre” which remained undefeated despite her illness. With her goes a certain notion of research in which intellectual demands and rigor do not exclude the sensitivity and diversity of life itself. This passing will therefore affect not only her family and friends but all of the researchers, book specialists and collectors who were fortunate enough to know her. The religious ceremony took place on Monday, 20 December 2010 at the church of Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire in Uccle.


Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond, lundi 20 décembre 2010



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