JEAN-BAPTISTE BELLOC (Pamiers, 1863- Paris, 1919)
Gilt bronze relief
14 1/2 inches x 9 5/8 inches (36.8 x 24.4 cm)
Signed, lower left: J. B. Belloc
Foundry mark, lower right: L. Perzinka Fondeur
Jean-Baptiste Belloc studied drawing in his hometown of Pamiers, in southeastern France. In 1881 he traveled to Paris to study sculpture at the École des beaux-arts with Jules Dumont, Jean-Marie Bonnassieux, Gabriele-Jules Thomas, and later Antonin Mercié.
Belloc exhibited at the Salon des artistes français from 1888 to 1913, winning an honorable mention in 1889 and a second-place medal in 1890. There he showed works in a variety of materials and sizes, ranging from monumental sculpture, to portrait busts and small-scale statuettes such as the Walkyrie (1899) of silver, gold, bronze, ivory, and precious stones.
In the 1903 Salon d’Automne, Belloc exhibited a bronze statuette titled Danseuse, and it is possible that our relief of a dancer was made around the same time. Her abundant billowing robes recall those of the American modern dancer Loie Fuller (1862-1928), who in 1892 made her debut in Paris, where her pioneering style attracted the attention of many artists, including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Rodin. While our relief does not appear to be a portrait, it may have been inspired by an interest in the dance and a knowledge of Fuller’s work. The dancer’s flowing robes also recall the windswept drapery in Belloc’s relief Apollo with the Muses of Poetry and Theater on the façade of the Municipal Theater in Tunis, inaugurated in 1902.
Belloc began traveling to North Africa in the late 1890s as a sculptor attached to the minister of the colonies. Other major projects there include the statue of General La Moricière for his monument in Constantine, Algeria, and the monument to Justin Massicault, former Resident General of France in Tunisia, in Bizerte. While in Africa Belloc also began a career as an orientalist sculptor, producing small bronzes such as Méhariste triomphant and Cavalier marocain.
For the city of Perpignan, France, Belloc executed numerous works, including the bronze statue of Winged Victory atop the Memorial to the War of 1870-1871, installed on the Promenade des Platanes in 1895, which was later moved to the boulevard Jean Barrat; the bronze Temps futurs, formerly on the square des Platanes (1897, destroyed); the bronze bust of Lazare Escarguel for his monument on the promenade de la Pépinière (destroyed); and the marble sculptural group Printemps et Bacchus for the fountain on the square des Platanes, inaugurated in 1905.
Belloc died in Paris in 1919 and was buried in the family tomb at Saint-Jacques in Perpignan. His widow, Antoinette Petit, a composer and piano teacher, donated many of his works to the Musée Hyacinthe-Rigaud in Perpignan.