Albert Wilfred Barbelle, American (1887 - 1957)

Albert Barbelle

Albert Barbelle was of French Canadian and American descent. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts to Wilfred and Marie Barbelle, Albert was the middle of five children in the family. There were other branches of the Barbelle family in Fall River as well, many of them being Albert's first cousins. His father died in the mid 1890s.
Albert spent much of his initial formal art study in his teens in both Paris and London, learning both traditional and commercial art.

Once back in the U.S. in New York City in the 1910s, he attended the Art Student League and continued painting, but also contracted as an advertising and sheet music cover artist. Byt the mid 1910s he was focusing largely on the more lucrative art for hire, while still maintaining his affinity for oils on the side. Some off the first Barbelle covers started appearing in 1912, and the overall quantity of them, which may be second only to the Starmer brothers, increased throughout the decade. His 1917 draft record has him listed as a commercial artist and designer working for the publishing house of Waterson, Berlin & Snyder.

The 1920 Census shows him as a studio artist, having recently married Irene Barbelle, and his mother was residing with the couple. By the mid 1920s the coupld had divorced, and in 1930, still listed as a commercial artist, he was now married to (looks like) Franck Barbelle. This relationship also ended in divorce soon after that. After his two failed marriages, Barbelle's involvement with music increased when he married composer and concert pianist Paula Fuchs in the mid 1930s. She was also a composer, having sritten Dusting Stars Around the Moon with artwork bh Albert. By 1942 he and Paula were living in Richmond, New York, with Albert showing only that he owned his own business, likely his art studio, still in Manhattan on 45th Street. Later in his life Albert had moved to Staten island, and was able to arrange some gallery shows of his more serious beautiful paintings. Barbelle's last cover, The Party's Over from the show Bells Are Ringing, appeared late in 1956, capping a cover career of some 44 years. He was actively involved as an artist in the community, largely with the Staten Island Museum in New York City, until his death in February of 1957. Albert died just two weeks shy of his 70th birthday following two months of ill health. Paula survived him until 1975, when she passed away in Miami, Florida.

Barbelle's work was wide ranging, including enhancing photographic subjects, fantasy creations and interesting silhouettes, a series of what would now be considered politically incorrect African-American themed humorous greeting cards. He even did some work illustrating the early Mickey Mouse in print in the early 1930s, having drawn the famous Disney character for Mickey's first book. But his forte was in painting beautiful women. He was very conscious of style and fashion, and was careful to keep his work contemporary as both of those elements evolved through the decades. His use of color was more subtle than some artists, but always tasteful, often with one particular hue deliberately highlighting a picture for effect. The volume of work turned out in some forty years was quite impressive, with the earlier large format sheets usually signed with his full name, but later works only as Barbelle.

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