Pierre de Belay (1890-1947)
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Like fellow artist of the same era Adolphe Marie Beaufrere, Pierre de Belay was born in Quimperlé, France. The origins and extent of his artistic training are generally little known. At the age of 29, it is known that he was released from military service when he promptly moved to Paris. Either way, Belay’s military had at least a small amount of impact on his artistic work as one can see in this naval painting “Le Haven de Concarneau.”
Most of Belay’s art work is dated in the 1920’s and on, so it is quite possible that little artwork of his exists from before his move to Paris. In 1925, Belay finally had a studio and was living in Montparnasse. This bustling corner of Paris had given great inspiration to many painters before him, and was certainly gave Belay much inspiration for his Parisian street scenes.
Besides being a painter and engraver, Belay was also an illustrator for the magazine “Harlequin” from 1923-1926. Although he was working steadily and slowly becoming known in art circles, Belay would not find real success until 1930, when an exhibit at the Rotonde and a private exhibit at the Gulot Gallery brought him real fame.
Belay would continue creating art for the rest of his life, and died in Paris in 1947. Although he spent the bulk of his time working in Paris, he would return to his hometown of Quimperlé in the Brittany area on canvas.
Although, like most artists, Belay would go through many periods and styles of paintings, his work is generally recognizable as his own. Bright colors, bold and often thick brushstrokes and scenes of French lifestyles are very typical to the work of Belay.
Today, Belay’s work is housed in museums all over France from Paris to Bordeaux and especially in Quimperlé. Because his early art teachings are so sketchy, as are what his earliest artworks may be, the possibility of finding one of Belay’s previously unknown works is very great. If he did produce anything while in the service, his art could have theoretically been created and sold or given away all over Europe.