Brussels is a treasure trove of fascinating artworks, especially in sculptural form. The humorous statue of Madame Chapeau by Tom Frantzen, located at the corner of Rue du Midi and Rue des Moineaux, may not stand out high above its illustrious pantheon of historical figures, locals, pissers, and cartoons, but it represents the very character of the city itself.
Amélie Van Beneden, nicknamed Madame Chapeau or “Mrs. Hat,” is a supporting character in the play Bossemans et Coppenolle, which was written by Joris d’Hanswyck and Paul Van Stalleand, and first staged in 1938. Traditionally portrayed by a male actor, the elderly lady is written as a representation of zwanze, the self-deprecative sense of humor typical in the Brusselian way of life, and speaks in the near-extinct, Francizied dialect of Dutch known as Brusseleer.
In 2000, the sculpture was commissioned by the Brabant Federation of Socialist Mutuality and erected in the city of Brussels. It depicts a bow-legged, bespectacled Madame Chapeau apparently counting the coins in her purse, while a curious rabbit and a green onion peek out of her wicker handbag.