The Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris will open on the 10th of October 2007 an exhibition showcasing some of the best works from the collection of Georges de Bellio, one of the most important art collectors of Romanian origin. Although he is largely unknown to the casual art lovers, Georges de Bellio (George Bellu) was one of the best collectors of the 19th century, managing to amass a huge and varied collection, that brought together impressionist, 18th century French, Italian and Flemish works, of great quality and finesse. The future exhibition will focus mainly on the best Impressionist art in the George de Bellio Collection.
The story of this collector and his treasure is as fascinating as the works themselves. George Bellu was born in Bucharest, in 1828, but left Romania at the middle of the 19th century, attracted to the art of culture of Paris. He would therefore discover France in 1850, when the contry was under the Second Republic and then under the Second Empire, and decided to stay there for good. His new name would thus be George de Bellio.
He was a doctor and came from a rich family, so he had the means and time to dedicate himself to his greatest passion - art collecting. At an early stage, this collection was fascinating mainly due to it's eclectic nature, as Georges de Bellio seemed to try to learn everything there was to know about art and to find those themes and artists that pleased him the most. After a short while, the collector discovered with awe the works of contemporary artists, mainly the Impressionists, which suited his taste just fine. In time he even became a friend and enthusiastic supporter of artists like Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, buying several canvases directly from them and "hunting" their best works at exhibitions and auctions.
In 1874 he bought his first work by Claude Monet, whom he would eventually meet two years later, in 1876. It was at that time that Monet first wrote in his notebook the name of M De Bellio, as the buyer of the La gondole (with frame). Several months later de Bellio also paid and advance for three other compositions made by Monet, and in the following years he continued buying and became a close friend of the painter. It seems that Claude Monet fascinated his new friend and faithful collector so much, that De Bellio even offered to lend his works for exhibitions and shows. Renoir was also an important artist for George de Bellio, who bought several of his works. More than that, in 1892 De Bellio commisioned a portrait of his daughter, before her marriage to Ernest Donop de Monchy.
George de Bellio was, above all, the first amateur to be a part of the so-called Impressionist art collectors, alongside Caillebotte, Duret and others. Over time, the sheer number of works in his collection surpassed the space that he had in his small apartament. So the passionate collector was forced to rent a small shop, where he exhibited the works of his favourite artists to his friends - Sisley, Monet, Mallarme, Geffroy and others. Most of these works were later donated to the Fine Arts Academy in Paris in 1957, by the artist's daughter.
Photo : marmottan.com