Béliard, Edouard

almost finished

Edouard Béliard (1832-1912)

or: Edmond Joseph Béliard

A forgotten Impressionist



Edouard Béliard: an unknown Impressionist:

In the early years Béliard was an active member of the Impressionist Art-movement, with close relationships with Pissarro, but also with Cézanne, Guillaumin, Piette and also with Monet and Degas. He exhibited with the Impressionists in 1874 and 1876. Before (in 1868 and 1873) and after (in 1880 and 1881) he submitted to the Salon. His landscape paintings and city views are partly in an impressionist painting style. In 1876 he leaves Paris (and the Impressionist circles) and moves to Étampes where he would become political active.


Edouard Béliard only joined the first two impressionist expositions:

At the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Béliard exhibited 4 works. In reviews he is only enumerated as one of the partakers (R87;R90I). At the second ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 he exhibited 8 works. Béliard showed mostly landscapes and city views (several in and around Pontoise). See link for his paintings. See link for an account (references, translations, info, discussion, locations on Google-maps).


Edouard Béliard submitted 4x to the Salon:

According to the Salon database (iR1) Béliard only exhibited 3 times at the Salon with in total 4 works. In 1868 (1), in 1880 (1) and in 1881 (2). In 1873 he probably was rejected and exhibited at the Salon des Refusés with one work. He mostly exhibited city-views, 3 made in Étampes. So the description ‘many paintings received at the Salon’, made at his funeral is exaggerated (aR6,p149). Some sources write that Béliard also exhibited at the Salon of 1867 and 1878, which is not affirmed by the Salon database. At this same funeral speech there is referred to exhibitions in London and Philadelphia.   See link for his paintings. See link for an account (references, translations, info, discussion, locations on Google-maps).


Edouard Béliard within the impressionist circles:

Béliard joins Pissarro at the atelier of Suisse in 1860 (iR4; did he also meet Monet and Cézanne who also attended the atelier Suisse?) In the 1860s he paints with Pissarro who lived nearby Auvers-sur-Oise in Pontoise (R21;R137; see painting together along the Oise). (So writing that he met Pissarro through Zola and Cézanne in Café Guerbois, doesn’t seem appropriate; see aR3;R116I,p120). Anyway Paul Alexis suggests in a lettre in 1882, that in 1866 Béliard was part of the ‘Batignolles-school’ (R116I,p120), something that is affirmed by other sources. Here he also would meet Monet (R21;R3;R88,p65) (Still Wildenstein doesn’t mention special encounters between Monet and Béliard. R22I,p104+106). In a lettre dated 1870/02/22 Béliard answers Pissarro, who is in exile in England, how things are in France. From his answer it is clear that he had (close) contacts with Cézanne, Guillaumin, Monet, Renoir, Sisley and also related painters / people like Daubigny (had just come back from London), Duranty, Fatin(-Latour), Guillemet, Mante, Odinot and Zola. (R1,p258;R116I,p130). In August and September 1872 Béliard painted with Pissarro, Cézanne, Guillaumin, Piette and Oller (R1,p292;R21;aR1;aR3;R88,p65;aR6,p192;iR4;R137). In that sense he belonged to the circle of friends around Pissarro, also called the school of Pontoise (R17,p178/9). Besnus writes Béliard worked side by side with Cézanne in Pontoise painting the same motive and later on exchanged their paintings (aR6,p177). 1872/09/23 Béliard is asked with other to sign a petition on behalf of Julien ‘Père’ Tanguy (R116I,p137). Besnus and Balas refer to contacts with Cézanne, Monet, Pissarro and Corot in Paris, L’Isle-Adam and most of all in Pontoise (aR6,p169+186). At his funeral he is called a comrade of Pissarro, Boudin and Chardin (aR6,p145).
Béliard signed in 1872 a petition for a Salon des Refusés and in 1873 he was mentioned by Paul Alexis (informed by Monet) as one of the group of artists that want to organize their own exhibitions (R8,p205;R116I,p139). At the end of that year he is one of the co-founders of the ‘Société Anonyme…’ (see also R22I,p104+106;R1,p309). Béliard even was in the inaugural committee (R1,p313;R8,p208). Besnus, also writes that Béliard was involved in ‘forming an organization of painters’. Besnus cites a letter of Alphonse Esquiroz who died in 1876. In an undated lettre Pissarro writes ‘your advice and ideas will be very useful to us’. Pissarro also writes that Monet and Renoir had a different opinion, so I assume this concerned the founding of the ‘Société Anonyme…’ in late 1873. There also is a possibility that these lettres refer to the forming of ‘L’Union’ in 1875, see below (aR6,p175/6). In a Salon review of 1881 it is said that Béliard ‘cooperated and assisted in the formation of several independent Arts Societies’ (aR6,p132/3).
As we saw, Béliard joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exhibition in 1874. One source says he was invited by Degas (iR5), but being so close to Pissarro it is more likely he was invited by Pissarro or even while he was so active in co-founding the ‘Société Anonyme…’ he didn’t need an invitation at all. Béliard exhibited just 4 paintings, so it is not appropriate to speak of a retrospective (iR3). One source mentions Béliard helped preparing this exposition (iR3). Denvir writes that he helped Renoir with the financial administration (R8,p208).
In 1875 Béliard is part of ‘l’Union‘ founded by Alfred Meyer and Pissarro as an alternative for the liquidated ‘Société Anonyme…’ (aR1;R116I,p148). Cézanne, Guillaumin and Latouche also were members. As we saw, Béliard joined the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exhibition in 1876 with 8 paintings. Zola criticises that he is small-minded and not original (R9), others say Zola was quite complimentary (aR1;R1,p372). This both is true, see below. In 1879 Degas stimulates him to exhibit again with the Impressionists, but Béliard doesn’t (R88,p65;aR6,p191;R9).
So we can say, Béliard was at first an active member within the impressionist art-movement. Why did he stop exhibiting with the Impressionists? How were his relations with the Impressionists after 1876? Walther says he distances from the impressionists principles (R3). Krämer mentions his political functions (1878-1912) in Étampes (R21). Étampes lies about 50km south of Paris (see map). In that sense he anyway geographically distanced from the Paris’ circles of friends. But this distance didn’t prevail him from exhibiting at the Salon of 1880 and 1881 (iR1). In 1880: he sacrificed his studio in Paris, because his wife had a poor health (aR6,p146).
At his funeral it is said that ‘he painted for himself, for his personal satisfaction’ and also that ‘until his last days, the moments he spent with his palette were his favorite moments’ (aR6,p149). This last description is affirmed by Besnus in his autobiography of 1923 (aR6,p168). Besnus writes that his landscapes are ‘always composed with a constant concern for truth, elegance and light’; that ‘The perspective is sensibly observed’; Béliard leaves out insignificant details; he ‘excels in snow effects’; his rendering of the sky is ‘scrupulously accurate’; ‘his palette disallows any violence of tones’; ‘the rythme always is musical like a symphony’. (aR6,p170-6) Balas (1947) summarises Besnus his descriptions (aR6,p187). Schurr says that ‘the irregularity of the thick strokes, by the shimmering of the lighting’ reveals the influence of Pissarro’ (aR6,p193).
Did Béliard sell his works? It is a fact that many of the works Béliard did exhibit were posthumous still in his possession. Fact also is that the prices that were paid at the posthumous auction were not very high. Fact also is that he tried to sell works at Hôtel Drouot in 1876. Did he need money? His works were sold for very low prices. (aR6,p157-166).


Did Edouard Béliard paint in an impressionistic style?

His style around 1872-75 is called to be similar to Pissarro and Sisley (aR1; R9;aR6,p193). He uses irregular touches of paint and renders glittering light (R9). Around 1878 he paints less loose (aR1). Some say that in his later years he would distance from the Impressionists and paint more realistic (iR3;iR5;aR6,p199). In a Salon review of 1881 he is described as ‘an independent artist who doesn’t belong to any groupe’  (aR6,p132/3). Léonce Balas cals Béliard in 1947  a member of the naturalistic and impressionist school (aR6,p185).
My own observations: Béliard sometimes uses black and many greyish and brownish colours. His brushstroke is quite flat and not very sketchy. Béliard mostly did indicate the place where he painted (14 out of the 17 works he exhibited with the impressionists and at the Salon; see account). He just two times indicated weather conditions, namely snow (2IE-1876-4 and S1880-231). In his paintings he tries to catch the light.
I think it is hard to say much about the development of his painting style, because many of his paintings are not dated or are dated approximately and most of all there are not many paintings known of Béliard at all. My conclusion is that Béliard was a landscape painter who partly painted in an impressionist painting style.   


Edmond Joseph Béliard, a short chronology:

  • His name is mentioned in different ways: Mostly it is rendered as Edouard Béliard (R2,p160; R17,p371;R21;R22I,p467;iR1) and probably his Christian name is: Edmond Joseph (R21;R9; R16;iR2;iR4;aR1). Walther probably uses a wrong spelling: Belliard (R3).
  • 1832/11/12 Béliard was born (aR6,p5;aR4; Note: there is no birth certificate). Léonce Balas mentions in 1947 1832/11/24 as date (aR6,p185). Most sources mention Béliard was born in 1832 in Paris (R9;R21;iR1;iR60;iR69;iR4;aR1). Some sources mention 1834 (R2,p506;R87,p230;aR6,p193) and 1835 (R3;iR5;iR11).
  • His parents did marry in 1832 (aR6,p6+114)
  • His mother died in 1835 (aR6,p6+117+168). After her death he often went to his grandfather, who had a little property at the foot of the Saint-Martin church in Étampes (aR6,p8+140). His father remarried in 1836. His stepmother probably wasn’t very affectionate to him (aR6,p7/8+144+168).
  • His father was a merchant (aR6,p5;R21). some (wrongly say that he was an architect (aR6,p190;R88,p65;R3;aR1;iR3).
  • In 1847 he worked in Étampes (R21)
  • In 1848 he returned to Paris (R21;aR6,p145) and worked as a clark and later as a secretary of Alphonse Esquiroz (aR6,p186).
  • Béliard was inspired by Alphonse Esquiroz and Proud’hon (aR6,p168+188). Zola mentions Béliard a disciple of Proudhon in a lettre written in 1877 (aR6,p174).
  • Béliard seemed to be altruistic, modest and erudite (aR6,p168+182).
  • Béliard his teachers in painting are: Auguste-Ernest Hébert, Bonnat (and Léon Cogniet) (iR1;R21;R9;R3;aR1;R87;aR6,p132+170+186).
  • Béliard also was influenced by Corot and at the Salon of 1880 called a pupil of him (iR1;R21;R9;aR1;R87). A review of the Salon of 1881 says he is most influenced by Corot and his ‘vocation for the poetry of nature’. (aR6,p132+170)
  • 1859 travel to Italy, Rome, Naples, Venice (aR6,p145;R21;R3). It is suggested by Besnus that he could do so because of the inheritance of his grandfather (aR6,p170), but he would die two years later.
  • 1860’s lives in Auvers-sur-Oise (R21), close to Pissarro who lived in Pontoise
  • 1861/09/21: his grandfather died in Étampes (aR6,p8).
  • 1863/10/08: Béliard became a freemason (aR6,p78). He would stay active as a freemason during at least 7 years. His activities afterwards are more vague (aR6,p78-92).
  • 1868, Spring: his address is: rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, 57, Paris (iR1)
  • 1870: some sources state that Béliard migrates to London and stays there until 1872 (R3; iR3; iR5). (If so, did he meet Monet, Pissarro, Daubigny and Durand-Ruel over there?) Other sources mention he stayed in Bougival (aR3) or at least in France (aR1). Besnus writes in 1923 that Béliard served in the National Garde (aR6,p171).
  • 1870/71: many of his early paintings were destroyed in the Franco-Prussian war (aR1; aR3)
  • 1872: the sources are contradicted about what Béliard did after the war: he returns to France (iR3); lives in Étampes (R3) or settles in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône (iR4), which is opposite of Pontoise.
  • His art-dealer was père Martin (R88,p65). I wonder if there is any information in the books of Martin of works bought and sold.
  • Has contacts with writers like Alphonse Esquiroz, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Paul Alexis, Guy de Maupassant and Antony Valabrèque (aR6,p171/2+187).
  • 1873, Spring: his adres mentioned in the Salon database: 69, rue de Douai, Paris (iR1)
  • 1873/12/08: marries Émilie Clara Dubec in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, who was born in 1857 and thus 25 years younger (aR6,p6;aR3). It seems they didn’t get children.
  • For the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Béliard gave as correspondence adres the art-dealer Martin (52, Rue Lafitte, Paris) (R2,p119).
  • 1875/04/05: receives a rather philosophique letter from Zola, who writes he belongs to a groupe of writers who analyse and register (aR6,p122-8).
  • 1875 early: moves away from Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône (see map), which lies opposite of Pontoise at the left / east side of the Oise (iR4; aR3) to Étampes (?).
  • 1876: moves to Étampes (aR6,p146;R2,p160), as Besnus writes ‘so that Mrs. Béliard could regain calm and health there’ (aR6,p172).
  • For the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 Etampes (Seine-et-Oise) was given as his address (R2,p160). The Seine-et-Oise department is now called Essonne (see info)
  • 1876/04/29: Zola in a lettre praises Béliard as ‘a careful copyist of nature’, mentioning the works 1876-4+1+7 he cals them ‘of an extremely accurate tone’. Further on he writes: ‘My only criticism is that the personality is still missing a little bit.’ In his review published in June, Zola repeats this. As a failure Zola mentions ‘the lack of originality’.  (aR6,p130). Besnus (1923) on the contrary praises his ‘very original character’ (aR6,p170), Balas (1947) follows Besnus (aR6,p186).
  • 1876/06/06: sale at Hôtel Drouot of paintings of Béliard; sold for 14 – 27 francs (aR6,p165/6).
  • 1876: Béliard exhibited in London (aR6). Maybe at the ‘exhibition of the Society of French Artists’ organised by Durand-Ruel (R22IV,p1016). I wonder of there is more information in the Durand-Ruel archives, about this exhibition and if Durand-Ruel did buy and sell works of Béliard.
  • 1878 onwards: In Étampes Béliard executes political functions from 1878-1912 (including the function of mayor from 1892-1900 (aR6,p3+13;R21;iR4;). He took an anti-clerical point of view (aR6,p53-77) and was a Republican (aR6,p15).
  • 1880: he sacrificed his studio in Paris, because his wife had a poor health (aR6,p146)
  • 1881: in a Salon review he is described as ‘an independent artist who doesn’t belong to any groupe’.  And also that he ‘cooperated and assisted in the formation of several independent Arts Societies ‘. (aR6,p132/3).
  • 1882/04/09: Zola writes Béliard about a misses (aR6,p134).
  • 1886: in a lettre Paul Alexis mentions that Béliard lived at 15, rue de Chauffour (aR6,p180/1).
  • 1886: Zola in his novel ‘the work / l’oeuvre’ took Béliard for the inspiration of his character the painter Gagnière (aR6,p3+192).
  • 1912/11/28: ‘Edouard Joseph Béliard’ died. He lived at 15, rue de Chauffour, Étampes (aR6,p135; aR4). Most sources mention Béliard died in 1912 in Étampes / Estampes (R9;R21;iR2;iR4;aR1). Walther (and the Dutch Wikipedia site) mention 1902 (R3;iR5), which is not correct. One source specifies: 1912/11/28, but a little further on renders the wrong date from Wikipedia of 1902 (aR4).
  • 1912/11/30: in the necrology in ‘Abeille d’Étampes’ mostly there are references to his political life, the political struggle, his being a Republican, anti-clerical and a free-mason. There is just a small reference to him as an artist, namely that he ‘followed the new road called impressionism’. (aR6,p137-141).
  • 1912: at the funeral there were many people to show their last honours. In the review there were no names of artists mentioned. Bouilloux-Lafant, mayor and friend of Béliard, did a speech. Béliard is buried at the cemetery ‘Saint-Gilles’ in Étampes. (aR6,p142-150).
  • 1913/03/09-11: posthumous auction of works and belongings of Béliard; containing 118 paintings of Béliard, including 53 studies; 8 paintings by others (including a work by Jongkind); 93 drawings by Béliard and others (namely Th. Rousseau), 25 watercolours, etchings; writings (namely of Zola and Paul Alexis).  (aR6,p157-161) His paintings were sold for 10 – 500 francs; the works earlier exhibited were most popular. (aR6,p162/3) Besnus sighs that by this auction many of his works have disappeared in foreign hands (aR6,p171).
  • 1913/03/15: 6 (or 7) paintings of Béliard were donated to the Musée Municipal d’Étampes (aR6,p152+166)
  • 1923: Charles Besnus (under his pseudonyme Georges Denoinville) wrote a  biography of Béliard as an artist in two articles under the title ‘un impressionniste oublié’ (a forgotten impressionist) (aR6,p167-182). He mentions several buyers of works of Béliard: Alphonse Esquiroz, Aurélien Scholl, comte de Saint-Léon (aR6,p180).
  • 1939: Émilie Dubec, the widow of Béliard died (aR6,p6)
  • 1947: article written by Léonce Balas about Béliard (aR6,p185-9).


Edouard Béliard, sources:

Many sources about Impressionism don’t mention Béliard at all (R4;R5;R6;R8;R10;R14;R15;R19;R86;R94;R95;R102), or just that he joined the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1874 and 1876 (R16).  My main sources are the excellent biography of Cavaignac (2015=R136=aR6), Rewald (1973=R1;12x), Moffett (1986=R2), Walther (2013=R3,p647), Schurr & Cabanne (2008=R9,p68), Krämer (2015=R21,p277), Belloli (1990=R17,p179), Wildenstein (1996=R22I,p104+106), Adhémar (1874=R87,p230), Berson (1996=R90), Pissarro&Durand-Ruel (2005=R116I,p120+130+136+137+139+148), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3,4,5),  Bénézit (iR69) and the additional sources mentioned below (=aR). For other general references (=R) see. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. See link for the sources on the pictures. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.

additional references (=aR):

  1. eclecticlight.co (article titled ‘vanished french Impressionists, 3’ also about Béliard) = iR35
  2. Musée Municipal d’Étampes (the museum has several paintings of Béliard)
  3. www.van-gogh.fr (an article about Béliard written by Christophe Duvivier, director of Musée de Pontoise, probably around 2007-11)
  4. www.geneastar.org (info on Béliard)
  5. www.corpusetampois.com (François Cavaignac: Maire d’Étampes et libre penseur. Étampes, 2015. An extended and well documented biography on Béliard, especially about his political life; in French)
  6. www.corpusetampois.com (pdf version; p12-112 about his political life in Etampes by François Cavaignac; p113-208 appendix, including lettres, info about the posthumous auction (p.151-166) and the biography of Charles Besnus of 1923 (p167-182).
  7. www.latribunedelart.com (article referring to an exhibition in the Musée d’Étampes in 2014)
  8. x