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silla was born out of a passion for beautiful objects: special pieces with aesthetic and historical significance. In 2009, after years of collecting, Andrew Silla and his wife Grace began to work privately with clients from their residence in Southern Maryland. Quickly outgrowing the space, the business was moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania in 2012 and after several warehouse location changes it was firmly settled in the present brick-and-mortar location in downtown Shippensburg.

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A Game of Cards (1906) | Jean-Jacques Berne-Bellecour

Berne-Bellecour, Jean-Jacques

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catalog text

French, 1874-1939

A Game of Cards (1906)

Oil on cradeled panel | signed lower right "Jean Berne Bellecour 1906" | housed in the original giltwood frame

Item # 403IEX11P 

A very fun depiction of French hussar soldiers passing the hours with a game of cards in a dark room, the room is austere and sparsely furnished with only two chairs, a wooden tavern table, a painting of a military figure on horseback and a few dishes with a half-eated loaf of bread on the windowsill. It has all the atmosphere of an abandoned tavern or hostel where the military figures have likely been stationed. Berne-Bellecour's ability to convey the very essence of his subjects is what made his work so poignant with his patrons; the present example is no exception, where he has explored each soldier as an individual fully invested in this game of cards. The figure on the right exhibits tension and even irritation, laying his card out almost as a dare to the thoughtful soldier on the left.

The work is executed on cradled artist's panel and is housed in what is almost certainly the original frame, noting the close match-up in oxidization between the panel and the frame. It is signed in the lower right and dated 1906.

Jean Jacques Berne-Bellecour was a French painter known for his military and landscape scenes. Born on November 24, 1874, in Boulogne-sur-Mer, he was the son of Étienne-Prosper Berne-Bellecour, the esteemed painter and engraver.

Jean Jacques followed in his father's artistic footsteps, studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He trained under the guidance of both Gérôme and Édouard Detaille in addition to his father, develpping a style characterized by precise attention to detail and a keen observation of his figures.

Like his father, Jean Jacques' work primarily focused on military subjects. His paintings depicted soldiers, battlefields, and military life with a realistic and meticulous approach. He participated in several exhibitions at the Salon des Artistes Français, of which he was a member, winning a commendation in 1912 and numerous medals thereafter. In 1924 he exhibited at the Sociéte Nationale des Beaux-Arts and in 1926 and 1939 he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. Further, he had numerous solo exhibitions dedicated to him including in Mulhouse, Douai, Lille and Lyons.

In addition to military scenes, Berne-Bellecour also painted landscapes, capturing the French countryside with a similar attention to detail and realism. His ability to convey the atmosphere and mood of his subjects earned him recognition among his contemporaries and his work was widely collected by notable political and military figures, including both General Pershing and Clemenceau.

Berne-Bellecour's paintings are held in various public and private collections, including the museums in Mullhouse, Paris at the Musee de l'Armée and San Francisco. His work is cherished for their historical accuracy and artistic quality.

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. II, Gründ, 2006, p. 284-285

Measurements: 27 5/8" H x 3 1/2" D x 31 1/4" W [frame]; 18 1/2" H x 23 3/8" W [panel]

Condition Report:
Professionally cleaned and conserved, presented in vibrant showroom condition. Tiny loss along upper right edge where frame rubs and small spots of inpainting visible when viewed under UV along the extreme edges. Otherwise excellent original condition. Giltwood frame with substantial gilding loss throughout, remaining a very powerful presentation.