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Albert de Belleroche (1864 - 1944)

The dining room of John Singer Sargent, circa 1884

SKU: 2657
Signed. Oil on canvas.
Presentation:
framed

Size:
Height – 43.5cm x Width – 42.5cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Julie de Belleroche; William de Belleroche, Ruth Wittman
literature:
Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.21.

Belleroche moved to West Hampstead in 1912. He maintained several studios in both Paris and London at different points in his career, some of which he shared with his friend the celebrated American Impressionist John Singer Sargent. Sargent moved into the ground-floor studio at 33 Tite Street in 1886. Belleroche and Sargent painted almost identical views of the room – the latter’s version, ‘My Dining-Room’, is now at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts.

In a gilded shallow hollow frame with outset corners and canvas cuff.

The room represented in his painting is almost certainly the dining-room belonging to the artist, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), at 33 Tite Street, Chelsea, London. Sargent painted an almost identical view of the room, called ‘My Dining-Room’, which is now at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Both paintings date from c.1886-9.  Sargent moved into the ground-floor studio at 33 Tite Street in 1886, later acquiring the house next door, 31, and knocking a hole through the wall to unite them. The proportions of the room in 33 Tite Street, which was then Sargent’s dining-room, and which survives today, match those of the room represented in the paintings. The bluebowl on the sideboard, which features in both works, is still owned by descendants of Sargent’s sister, Violet. A second picture by Sargent called ‘The Blue Bowl’, showing this object, seems to be a view of the dining-room looking the other way (Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts). Sargent and Belleroche had been close friends since their student days in Paris, and are known to have shared a studio from time to time, so there is nothing improbable in their sitting side by side to paint the same scene. The two little girls poring over a sketch in Belleroche’s picture, who add to it a warm, human note, have not been identified, probably the daughters of a friend.

The Belleroche painting is reproduced in the 5th volume of the Sargent catalogue raisonne: Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, ‘JohnSinger Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899′, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2010, p. 92.’

We are grateful to Richard Ormond for assistance.

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THE ARTIST

Albert de Belleroche
Albert de
Belleroche
1864 - 1944

Although born in Wales, he was the son of the Marquis de Belleroche, of one of the most ancient French noble families who, being Huguenots, had fled to England in 1685. In 1871, following the death of his father, he moved back to Paris with his family. After he had finished school there, he studied at the studio of Carolus Duran, and spent long hours copying at the Paris museums. He soon became familiar with the leading painters and intellectuals of the day, and became a founder member of the Salon d’Automne, exhibiting alongside the Impressionists and associating with Emile Zola, Oscar Wilde, Albert Moore, Renoir, Degas, Helleu and Toulouse-Lautrec. Toulouse-Lautrec and Belleroche were exact contemporaries, who first met at the age of eighteen. Belleroche painted Toulouse-Lautrec’s portrait and shared with him a passion for the model Lili, who epitomised the Belle Epoch aesthetic of Toulouse-Lautrec’s most celebrated posters. Lili became Belleroche’s favourite model and mistress. In 1882 Belleroche also met the already acclaimed American painter John Singer Sargent, who recognised Belleroche’s talent and empathised with his free drawing style and sensitivity to light. They became life-long friends. Sargent’s handling of pastel was a great inspiration to Belleroche, while Belleroche’s sensitivity to tone and creation of form through the modeling of light exerted a strong influence on Sargent. In 1900, Belleroche became fascinated by the medium of lithography and by 1905 he was a leading figure in the field of lithographic portraiture. A.M. Hind, a former keeper of prints at the British Museum, described his works in lithography as “amongst the greatest achievements of the craft since its discovery.”

He held commercial exhibitions at the Goupil Gallery (1903), Graves, London (1906), Colnaghi’s (1941) and Walker Gallery, London (1942). As however he had no need to live from his art, he rarely took on commissioned portraits, instead choosing models and sitters who interested him. This in part – though not entirely – explains why he is so little known. A room in the MusŽ e D’Orange is dedicated to Belleroche. He was the subject of numerous publications during his lifetime, and in 2001 the San Diego Museum of Art organised an exhibition and produced a catalogue entitled The Rival of Painting: the Lithographs of Albert Belleroche.

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