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Wallonia is the federal region of southern Belgium where French and German are the official languages, and where Lorrain, Luxembourgish, Picard, Franconian and Walloon languages are also spoken.




In Walloon

Literature is written principally in French but also in Walloon and other regional languages, colloquially called Walloon literature. Walloon literature (regional language not French) is printed since the 16th century. But it did have its golden age, paradoxically, during the peak of the Flemish immigration to Wallonia in the 19th century: "That period saw an efflorescence of Walloon literature, plays and poems primarily, and the founding of many theaters and periodicals." The New York Public Library possesses a surprisingly large collection of literary works in Walloon, quite possibly the largest outside Belgium, and its holding are representative of the output. Out of nearly a thousand, twenty-six were published before 1880. Thereafter the numbers rise gradually year by year, reaching a peak of sixty-nine in 1903, and then they fall again, down to eleven in 1913. See 'Switching Languages', p. 153. Yves Quairiaux counted 4800 plays for 1860–1914, published or not. In this period plays were almost the only popular show in Wallonia. But this theater remains popular in the present-day Wallonia: Theater is still flourishing, with over 200 non-professional companies playing in the cities and villages of Wallonia for an audience of over 200,000 each year. There are links between French literature and (the very small) Walloon literature. For instance Raymond Queneau set Editions Gallimard the publication of a Walloon Poets' anthology. Ubu roi was translated in Walloon by André Blavier ( an important pataphysician of Verviers, friend of Queneau), for the new and important Puppets theater of Liège of Jacques Ancion, the Al Botroûle theater "at the umbilical cord" in Walloon indicating a desire to return to the source (according to Joan Cross). But Jacques Ancion wanted to develop a regular adult audience. From the 19th century he included the Walloon play Tati l'Pèriquî by E.Remouchamps and the avant-garde Ubu roi by A.Jarry. For Jean-Marie Klinkenberg, the dialectal culture is no more a sign of attachment to the past but a way to participate to a new synthesis

In French

Jean-Marie Klinkenberg (member of the Groupe µ) wrote also that Wallonia (and literature in Wallonia), is also present since the beginning of the history of formation of the French language. In their 'Histoire illustrée des lettres française de Belgique', Charlier and Hanse (editors), La Renaissance du livre, Bruxelles, 1958, published 247 pages (on 655 ), about the "French" literature in the Walloon provinces (or Walloon principalities of the Middle-Age, sometimes also Flemish provinces and principalities), for a period from the 11th to the 18th centuries. Among the works or the authors,the Sequence of Saint Eulalia (9th century), La Vie de Saint Léger (10th century), Jean Froissart (14th century in the County of Hainaut), Jean d'Outremeuse, Jean Lebel, Jean Lemaire de Belges (16th century from Bavay), the Prince of Ligne (18th century, Beloeil). There is a Walloon Surrealism, especially in the Province of Hainaut. Charles Plisnier (1896–1952), born in Mons, won the Prix Goncourt in 1936, for his novel Mariages and for Faux Passeports (short stories denouncing Stalinism, in the same spirit as Arthur Koestler). He was the first foreigner to receive this honour. The Walloon Georges Simenon is likely the most widely read French-speaking writer in the world, according to the Tribune de Genève. More than 500 million of his books have been sold, and they have been translated into 55 languages. There is a link between the Jean Louvet's work and the social issues in Wallonia

In Picard

Picard is spoken in the western province of Hainaut. Notable Belgian authors who wrote in Picard include Géo Libbrecht, Paul Mahieu, Paul André, Francis Couvreur and Florian Duc.

Mosan art, painting, architecture

Mosan art is a regional style of Romanesque art from the valleys of the Meuse in present-day Wallonia, and the Rhineland, with manuscript illumination, metalwork, and enamel work from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Among them the masterpiece of Renier de Huy and perhaps of the whole Mosan art Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège. The architecture of Roman churches of the Walloon country are also named mosan, exemplified by the Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude in Nivelles, and the churches of Waha and Hastière, Dinant. The Ornamental brassware is also a part of the Mosan art and among these dinandiers Hugo d'Oignies and Nicholas of Verdun.

Jacques du Broeucq was a sculptor of the 16th century.

Flemish art was not confined to the boundaries of modern Flanders and several leading artists came from or worked in areas in which langues d'oïl were spoken, from the region of modern Wallonia, e.g. Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden (Rogier de la Pasture) and Jacques Daret. Joachim Patinir Henri Blès are generally called mosan painters. Lambert Lombard (Liège, 1505 – 1566) was a Renaissance painter, architect and theorist for the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. Gérard de Lairesse, Bertholet Flemalle were also important painters in the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.

Gustave Serrurier-Bovy (Liège, 1858 - Antwerp, 1910) architect and furniture designer, credited (along with Paul Hankar, Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde) with creating the Art Nouveau style, coined as a style in Paris by Bing. And in Liège also, principally Jean Del Cour, the sculptor of the Virgin in Vinâve d'Isle, Léon Mignon the sculptor of Li Tore and Louis Jéhotte of the statue of Charlemagne.

George Grard (1901 — 1984) was a Walloon sculptor, known above all for his representations of the female, in the manner of Pierre Renoir and Aristide Maillol, modelled in clay or plaster, and cast in bronze.

During the 19th and 20th centuries many original romantic, expressionist and surrealist Wallon painters emerged, including Félicien Rops, Paul Delvaux, Pierre Paulus, Fernand Verhaegen, Antoine Wiertz, René Magritte... The avant-garde CoBrA movement appeared in the 1950s.


There was an important musical life in Prince-Bishopric of Liège since the beginning. Between 1370 and 1468 flourished a school of music in Liège, with Johannes Brassart, Johannes de Sarto and firstly Johannes Ciconia, the third Master of Ars Nova.

The vocal music of the so-called Franco-Flemish School developed in the southern part of the Low Countries and was an important contribution to Renaissance culture. Robert Wangermée and Philippe Mercier wrote in their encyclopedic book about the Walloon music that Liège, Cambrai and Hainaut played a leading part in the so-called Franco-Flemish School.

Among them were Orlande de Lassus, Gilles Binchois, Guillaume Dufay In the 19th and 20th centuries, there was an emergence of major violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps, Eugène Ysaÿe (author of the unique opera in Walloon during the 20th century Piére li houyeû - Pierre the miner - based on a real incident which occurred in 1877 during a miners' strike in the Liège region), and Arthur Grumiaux, while Adolphe Sax (born in Dinant) invented the saxophone in 1846. The composer César Franck was born in Liège in 1822, Guillaume Lekeu in Verviers. More recently, André Souris (1899–1970) was associated with Surrealism. Zap Mama is a more international group.

Henri Pousseur is generally regarded as a member of the Darmstadt School in the 1950s. Pousseur's music employs serialism, mobile forms, and aleatory, often mediating between or among seemingly irreconcilable styles, such as those of Schubert and Webern (Votre Faust), or Pousseur's own serial style and the protest song "We shall overcome" (Couleurs croisées). He was strongly linked to the social strikes in Liège during the 1960s. He worked also with the French writer Michel Butor.


Walloon films are often characterized by social realism. It is perhaps the reason why the documentary Misère au Borinage, and especially its co-director Henri Storck, is considered by Robert Stallaerts as the father of the Walloon cinema. He wrote: "Although a Fleming, he can be called the father of the Walloon cinema.". For F.André between Misère au Borinage and the films like those of the Dardenne brothers (since 1979), there is Déjà s'envole la fleur maigre (1960) (also shot in the Borinage), a film regarded as a point of reference in the history of the cinema. Like those of the Dardenne brothers, Thierry Michel, Jean-Jacques Andrien, Benoît Mariage, or, e.g. the social documentaries of Patric Jean, the director of Les enfants du Borinage writing his film as a letter to Henri Storck. On the other hand, films such as Thierry Zéno's Vase de noces (1974), Mireille in the life of the others by Jean-Marie Buchet (1979), C'est arrivé près de chez vous (English title: Man bites dog) by Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel (1992) and the works of Noël Godin and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are influenced by surrealism, absurdism and black comedy. The films of the Dardenne brothers are also inspired by the Bible and Le Fils for instance is regarded as one of the most spiritually significant films.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Wallonia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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