Souvenir of Belterre by Blenner.
Souvenir of Belterre by Blenner.

Blenner was born in Richmond Virginia and received his formal training in Paris at the Academie Julian and amongst the many awards he received a medal at the Buffalo Exposition of 1901, the venue where Winslow Homer first exhibited his iconic Bermuda watercolours. We think he visited Bermuda at the turn of the last century, perhaps escaping the frigid winter he would have experienced in his New York studio, which he maintained for 50 years. His work, Souvenir of Belterre, translated means “memory of a beautiful land”. It was this landscape that he and many other artists found to be of inspiration. Belterre was at that time a guesthouse and restaurant which I believe to be “Cave House” on Harbour Road in Warwick today. It was painted from the Belmont Hotel property looking northwest. Belterre was typical of the many guesthouses dotted around the island at that time. This bucolic work suggests tranquillity-the land around Belterre having been stripped of its indigenous cedar. When the work was returned to Bermuda it was thought by some not to be of local subject matter due to its title. It took very little persuasion to have the skeptics see that Belterre is all about Bermuda!

Tom Butterfield is founder of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. tbmworks@logic.bm. www.bermudamasterworks.com