Henri Bellery-Desfontaines

Henri Bellery-Desfontaines , born with Paris in 1867 and died October 6th 1909, is a French Noveau artist Jack-of-All- Trades, who produced tables, illustrations, posters, lithographies, drawings of carpet, pieces of furniture and banknotes, and even dabbled with decoration & architecture. In the 1900s, Paris was the perfect place for a group of young artists influenced by artistic currents like neogothic style or symbolism. Most of them started as painters and they switched later to decorative arts, attracted by the idea of an ever-present art, a lifeless art, a total art. Henri Bellery-Desfontaines was a member of this group and he started as as painter in Pierre-Victor Galland’s atelier. He entrusted him the decorative motifs which would frame Panthéon de Paris' drawings: Maillot, Bonnat, Humbert and specially Jean-Paul Laurens, who proposed him to join his atelier in l’École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. With him, he decorated l'Hôtel de Ville de Paris or Le Salon Lobau, Henri Bellery-Desfontaines is thought to have Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920) as a teacher. During his years as a student, he started to illustrate magazines and books of tales and in 1895, Bellery-Desfontaines opted rapidly for illustration, probably due to financial problems, and he participated in magazines such as L’Image, L’Estampe Moderne or L’Almanach des Bibliophiles. This year, the Salon des Artistes Français hosted one of his design of tapestry. From 1900 on, he gradually evolved toward an ambitious decorative artist, making tapestries and furniture for rich leaders and patrons. Bellery-Desfontaines was an important artist of his epoch, and he took part in numerous events like Bal des Quat'z'Arts or Bal de l'Internat; he also made lots of illustrations such as a joker for the playing cards company Fossorier Amar et Cie, a typography for Fonderie G. Peignot et Fils, or the portraits of Yvette Guilbert, Mounet-Sully, etc. He left a vast artistic production adorned with floral and vegetal motifs and so many unfinished works since he died young from typhoid fever at age 42.

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