Léon Adolphe Belly, Woodland View With Pond

Regular price £2,295.00
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Léon Adolphe Belly, Woodland View With Pond

Regular price £2,295.00
Unit price
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This 19th-century oil painting by French artist Léon Adolphe Belly (1827-1877) depicts a woodland view with a pond and women washing clothes. It’s a gentle portrayal and a far stretch from his grander ‘orientalist’ paintings.

With relentless dedication, Belly undertook numerous exhausting missions to the expansive plains and claustrophobic heat of 19th-century North Africa where travel was debilitating, particularly for a dapper Frenchman, built for the playground of Paris. He did so in search of the ‘orient’, a theme in French Academic art made popular by painters such as Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Belly’s orientalist works combine a rich tapestry of colour and exquisite details. Vast horizons under a crisp heat, fully-laden camels resting under boughs, women gathering water from a river. These were the masterpieces which sang to the hanging committee of the illustrious Paris Salon. They lapped it up and his career was secured.

Yet, when returning from his various travels, his work took on a different atmosphere. Away from the scorching banks of the Nile, he turned to the rich and varied topography of Fontainebleau, near Paris. These magical woods have inspired numerous artists over the years including painter Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867) who, along with several of his contemporaries, became the first to truly embrace painting entirely outdoors. Belly’s work at Fontainebleau is quieter and less flamboyant. It lacks the attention-seeking bravura of his large desert scenes. At the Salon, hundreds of artists competed for the gaze of the bourgeois patron. While, when at home, Belly seemed to paint what he loved - for himself more than anyone.

Here, in this piece from circa 1870, a woman dressed in a lilac top with yellow headscarf hunches over a pond to wash clothes. Another rests in the shade and reads, while a crisp and cloudless sky radiates light. Various clothing hangs from a battered wooden fence - each colour picked out with confidence and virtuosity.

In the final years of his life, Belly became seriously ill and turned more frequently to the picturesque views of his homeland. Within his restful depictions of woodland clearings, ponds and lakes, there’s a sense of comfort that resonates within each of us.

Signed and held with a 19th-century gilt frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 25” x 19½” / 64cm x 45cm
Year of creation: c. 1870
Condition: Artwork presents well. Craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £130,000

Leon Adolphe Belly

Léon Adolphe Belly

Léon Adolphe Belly trained under Francois Edouard Picot in Paris. His works are held in numerous public collections including seven at the Musée d’Orsay.

Learn more about Léon Adolphe Belly in our directory.

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