.De Backer
15th century

Brief biography.


The magnificent town hall of Leuven can be admired at the Grote Markt (Market Square). The Mayor's House is built as a most perfect and beautiful expression of the Brabantine Gothic style

The building today, known as the Town Hall, was the Voirste Huys (front house) of a larger complex of municipal buildings, planned by the Flemish architect Sulpicius van Vorst and was inspired in large part by the Town Hall of Brussels. The construction of the complex started in 1439, on the site of an earlier town hall. Van Vorst died 18 September 1439, and was succeeded briefly by Jan Keldermans II (ca. 1375-1445), whose death in 1445 ended the first construction campaign.

The project was resumed in 1448 under the direction of Matthijs de Layens (+3 December 1483). The first stone of the Voirste Huys was laid on 28 March 1448. The cellars of some demolished houses were utilized in the new construction. De Layens changed the original design of van Vorst, as a result of which the Town Hall got its current form. He abandoned plans for a belfry tower at one end of the building, substituting in its place turrets arranged symmetrically to those on the opposite side. The exterior masonry and roof were finished in 1460, and in 1469 the building was complete.

Statue niches are distributed all over the building: in pairs between the windows, on three corner shafts, and on the six turrets. The pedestals that support the statues are carved with Biblical scenes in high relief.

The main façade has an entrance staircase and two portals in the centre, above which are figures of Saint Peter (left) and Madonna and Child (right), the former in complement to the patron of the church opposite. Some designs of the statues of the building are from the Dominican De Backer.

The artist Dirk Bouts was commissioned in 1468 to paint two works to adorn the interior.




The town hall of Leuven.


Belgium 1968, Mi 1537,
Sc 645.



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