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La Toilette, circa 1910
Unmounted (ref: 2949)
Proof, inscribed Julie with inventory reference 334
Lithograph in black ink on light brown paper, 16 x 11 1/2 in. (40.7 x 29.2 cm.)


 


Provenance: from the personal collection of William de Belleroche.

The model for La Toilette is Julie Visseaux.  Belleroche married her in 1910, when he was 45 and Julie 17 years his junior.  Julie was the daughter of Belleroche's friend the sculptor Jules Edouard Visseaux.

Belleroche was 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. He shared a studio with his friend, John Singer Sargent, whose handling of pastel was to be of great inspiration to Belleroche. In turn, Belleroche's sensitivity to tone and creation of form through the modelling of light exerted an influence on Sargent. Belleroche's talent as a painter was recognized by his contemporaries - Degas owned three lithographs by Belleroche and in the early 1890s the French state acquired a painting for the Luxembourg Gallery. Roger Marx, the critic who discovered Renoir, was amongst Belleroche's fervent admirers, referring to him as 'le peintre des femmes decoiffées' (Gazette de Beaux-Arts, XLX, Jan 1905). 

Marx also fully acknowledged Belleroche's importance as painter-lithographer, writing in 1908:  Belleroche holds a premier position in the current renaissance of lithography.  No one since Eugene Carriere has equaled Belleroche's technique or his understanding of lithography.  He is a master.... Indeed he is a painter-lithographer: he brings his subjects to life in moving light and shwadows.  His ink creates tones which reach the limits of the joyous and profound... His art, born in a daylight which is its own jstification, is created from love." (RogerMarx, Peintres-lithographes Contemporains:Albert Belleroche" Gazette des Beaux-Arts I,  vol 39, 1908,  p. 74.



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 Musée 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.

See all works by Albert de Belleroche