The official participation of the Austrian Federal Government in the Flemish Art Exhibition in Antwerp is of such importance that I am pleased to underline this courteous and frankly friendly gesture of the Government that I have the honour of representing towards Belgium.
Indeed, the National Museums of Vienna, as well as its private collections, are sending us more than 80 masterpieces: paintings, tapestries, sculptures, original drawings and engravings (some of the most important works have been insured for more than 15 million francs) which will undoubtedly constitute a superb ensemble of inestimable value and will give visitors an idea of the splendour of our ancient art.
Austria, together with Italy, is undoubtedly in the lead in terms of participation in retrospective art, and will thus make a major contribution to the success of the Flemish Art Exhibition, which promises to surpass in capital works and treasures all that has been assembled to date.
On this occasion, grateful to my Government for this tangible proof of real courtesy, I will take the liberty of translating my thoughts on Austria into what the French statesman Monsieur Edouard Herriot wrote last December in a letter addressed to the Director of the journal "L'Art Vivant" in Paris, a letter which I am pleased to reproduce verbatim:
"Monsieur le Directeur,
You inform me that "L'Art Vivant" proposes to "devote a special issue to Austria, and you would like to ask me to present this
to present this general review of Austrian activity to the public. I am happy to do so.
In the artistic order, the one in which you place yourself, "Austria, by its past, by the so precious qualities
of its population and its elite, by its culture, occupies "a place of first rank. Music, theatre, painting
and letters, all these provinces of the intellect are fruitfully cultivated by one of the most spiritually rich nations of Europe. And in an environment where tradition "shows itself so sumptuously, a place is reserved for free research, for efforts towards the future.
You were therefore right to bring together the elements" of this synthesis. And I congratulate you, since I am one of those who follow with care and sympathy the life of Austria and its brilliant capital.
In addition to this impressive participation in the Exhibition of Old Flemish Art, the Ministry of Trade in Vienna sent us a small tourist pavilion.
This tourist pavilion is made of polished walnut and is an original example of Austrian Arts and Crafts. In the windows of this stand, Austrian products are beautifully displayed in a way that shows them to their best advantage. At the back of the stand is a map giving an overview of the main road, rail, bus and air connections. Information is also provided on the 10 new suspension railways, which provide access to the mountain resorts in just a few minutes, and which will be of particular interest to tourists.
The map also shows the spas, bathing establishments and winter sports centres that make Austria so special.
Another map shows Austria as the tourist centre of Europe. The natural beauty of the country, its imposing buildings and monuments are reproduced in original showcases by a series of watercolours. The interpreter will distribute brochures about Austria in different languages, relating to the country's tourist and other facilities. Maps, guidebooks and travel programmes are available to the public.
A number of trade stands round off this interesting exhibition.
Adjacent to the International Hall, a small pavilion has been built and fitted out, called the "Austrian Pavilion", thanks to the private initiative of the undersigned and representing a Tyrolean house of fresh originality. The mass of visitors to the Antwerp Worlds Fair will come here to familiarise themselves with this tourist country par excellence and will undoubtedly be interested in the Viennese items on display. They will have the best possible memories of this attractive ensemble.
I would like to pay tribute to Count Adrien van der Burch, Commissioner General of the Belgian Government, to the President of the Executive Committee of the Exhibition, Mr. Martougin, to Baron Holvoet, Governor of the Province of Antwerp, and above all to the very sympathetic Mayor of Antwerp, Mr. F. Van Cauwelaert, for his support and assistance. Van Cauwelaert, for the precious help and efficient support they have kindly lent to H. E. Dr. Duffek, Austrian Minister for Belgium, to the undersigned and to our distinguished Belgian Minister in Vienna, Mr. Leghait, in order to obtain from the Federal Government such a superb and important participation in the Flemish Art Exhibition.
What Austria thinks of Belgium, the "Neue Freie Presse" of Vienna wrote in one of its last issues when it said: "Belgium is justly proud of the battles she fought a century ago to secure her freedom and which produced such a great moral impression on attentive peoples. It is not with less reason that she now looks back with satisfaction on the work accomplished during the last hundred years.
It is true that internal worries were not spared: the disputes between Walloons and Flemings, between Catholics and Liberals were not always free of friction; but the quarrels between parties could not prevent the constructive work from continuing, both from the cultural point of view and from the point of view of economic development. It is true that the Great War caused cruel wounds and terrible devastation to the country, but all traces of destruction have already been erased; the cities have been rebuilt and the Belgian provinces, so favoured by nature, are once again enjoying the prosperity of yesteryear.
Therefore, the Belgians can now, with a high forehead, prepare themselves for the realization of the rich programme of national celebrations which, begun in the last few days, must continue until September.
This opinion is that of the entire Austrian people, it is the faithful expression of Austria's feelings of admiration for Belgium, it is the sincere admission of a frank sympathy.
In my capacity as a Belgian and as Austrian Consul General in Brussels, Commissioner General of the International Exhibitions of Antwerp and Liege, I hope that this grandiose event, the Antwerp Exhibition, will contribute to the reconciliation of peoples.
May our flags of red and white, the Antwerp and Austrian colours, fly side by side; may they be the emblem of the pacifying role rightly attributed to international exhibitions, and may they be the prelude to a lasting understanding between our two peoples.
© Guide Officiel - Anvers 1930