He was educated in Brussels and Paris. Having set out to study music, he changed to architecture and went on to become "undoubtedly the key European Art Nouveau architect and designer" in the words of the critic John Julius Norwich.
His flamboyant house for Professor Tassel in Brussels, completed in 1893, is usually considered as the first Art Nouveau building in the world. Horta’s innovative use of metal and glass and the sophisticated furniture and decoration, all designed by the architect, created a sensation in critical circles and was reported widely, bringing him international fame and influencing many other architects, including Hector Guimard, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Horta went on to design many private houses in Brussels (four of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and elsewhere, as well as public buildings, such as hospitals, art galleries and concert halls. During his time as Professor of Architecture at the Free University of Brussels, he made changes to the curriculum that were taken up by universities worldwide, contributing greatly to the professionalisation of architecture.
He was made a Belgian Baron in the 1930s and died in 1947. His last building, Brussels Central Station, was completed after his death by his pupil Brunfaut.
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