Inspired by the examples of the Grosvenor House in London and the Prinsenhof in Delft, and organinzed by the Belgian Antiques Fair not-for-profit association, the first BRAFA (Brussels Antiques & Fine Arts Fair) edition took place in 1955 in the Arlequin Hall of the Galerij Louiza.
This initiative to set up a “salon van antiquairs” was taken by Charles Van Hove, for many years the President, and Ms Mamy Wouters, Vice-President, of the Belgian Royal Chamber of Antiques Dealers.
Reserved until 1994 to Belgian antique dealers who were members of the Royal Chamber of Antiques Dealers, the fair was a national event that had been held at the "Palais des Beaux-Arts" in Brussels between 1967 and 2003, with the number of participants ranging between forty and fifty.
However its continuous success and expansion of art objects continued to arise the interest of antique dealers from abroad, leading the at the time President Christian de Bruyn to open the fair to foreign antique dealers for the first time in 1995.
The "Palais des Beaux-Arts" no longer suficed to hold the event and in 2004 the Belgium Antiques Fair moved to the Tour & Taxis industrial site in the Noordwijk district of Brussels alongside the Willebroek canal.
This change permited to increase the number of participants to near 120, a steep improvement from the original 20 participants at the outset and a statement of BRAFA's importance at an international level.
Over the years the fair has also embraced modern and contemporary art, preparing itself for the 21st century. Because the name “Belgian Antiques Fair” or “Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique” no longer reflected this development, in 2007 the fair was renamed BRAFA or Brussels Antiques & Fine Arts Fair.
The Belgian Antiques Fair not-for-profit association was placed under the High Protection of Her Majesty the Queen on 30 September 2009.
The fair will include antiquities, oceanic art, African art, Oriental art, silver, antique jewellery, furniture and works of art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, curiosities, ceramics, earthenware and porcelain, drawings, engravings, old masters, modern painting, sculpture, carpets, tapestry, antique and modern books, numismatic, contemporary painting and sculpture, photography.
Counting with the presence of 130 dealers, the BRAFA's 56th edition is expected to receive around 38,000 visitors.
Held in the Tour & Taxis in the heart of Brussels, the fair will run from 21 to 30 January 2011 (11am to 7pm). Late night opening on Tuesday 25 and Thursday 27 January 2011 until 10.30 pm.
Guided tours: daily at 3 pm.
A catalogue with 600 pages is available for €10.
The Museum Mayer van den Bergh will be this year's guest of honour and will exhibit twenty works of art that will include The Adoration of the Shepherds by Jacob Jordaens, an antiquities-styled Maria-Magdalena by Jan Gossaert, and the life-size portraits of the Vekemans family painted by Cornelis de Vos.