Georges De Bellio, A Romanian Physician, Admirer And Supporter Of Impressionist Painters

Before becoming fascinated with Impressionist painting, de Bellio already had a remarkable art collection, made of various objects purchased in auctions at Hotel Drouot or from Parisian antiquaries: furniture, old Dutch lamps, Italian drawings from the 17th century, sculptures (among which a female bust by Luca della Robbia), bronzes, ceramics, Japanese masks and, of course, paintings. The oldest information about his collection dates from February 1864: in that year, participating in the sale at Eugene Delacroix' atelier, de Bellio bought a superb Etude de chevaux (Horse Study) and a copy from a Rubens painting, Satyr Embracing a Nymph. A late inventory, made after his death (1894), offers an almost complete image of the art treasures gathered by the Romanian physician over a period spanning about 30 years. Therein are works that would be the pride of any of the greatest museums in the world. Although we have information about his collections, the events in de Bellio's life remain for the most part obscure. We know that in 1862 he married Catherine Rose Guillemet, and a year later the two were blessed with the birth of Victorine. They lived on rue Grange Batelliere, together with Constantin, who soon committed suicide in a hotel room. The motive of his gesture can only be surmised – the lack of a goal in a life that at that time seemed futile. Even though the relation between the two brothers, with entirely different natures, had grown colder, Georges was undoubtedly distressed by the loss of his beloved brother. At Café Riche, Georges de Bellio organized once a month, since 1880, a dinner for his friends, painters and writers. It was an occasion for artists who lived outside Paris to meet their colleagues. In these reunions, known as impressionist dinners, used to take part Victor Chocquet, Gustave Caillebotte, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Theodore Duret, Edmond de Goncourt, Armand Guillaumin, the editor Charpentier, Octave Mirbeau, Ernest Hochedé, Mallarmé, and sometimes Paul Cézanne. Discussions were heated and endless, because, as the poet Charles Cros wrote, The dream is not to dine – But to drink, chat, joke. 
Excerpted from Georges Bellio by Ruxandra IONESCU and Al. MARINESCU, The Prahova County Museum of Art, 2003

by Alexandru Marinescu