William De Belleroche
A painter, printmaker, collector and bohemian, born in London, but brought up in Sussex where he finally lived in Brighton. His father was a painter, Albert, who died in 1944, and William – widely known as Count Willie – inherited the French title. Although he taught himself to paint, William was much influenced by the artist Frank Brangwyn, whom he met in 1934 and befriended for over 25 years. He wrote several books on Brangwyn, who encouraged William to take up printmaking. He was a great collector of objects such as shells, which appear in his paintings, and he formed the largest private collection of Brangwyns in the world. Before World War II his initiative led to the foundation of the Brangwyn-de Bellroche Museum in Orange, France. He had a wide circle of friends, including the actresses Hermione Baddeley and Flora Robson, the artists Augustus John and James Fitton and Gwen, Lady Melchett, many of whom he painted. William was very fond of fish, and had a one-man show at Prunier’s Restaurant in 1963, another being held in an interior design shop in Brighton the following year. Others followed annually at Upper Grosvenor Galleries. Fine Art Society held a show in 1989, which showed Williams to have been a witty, amusing Colourist. British Museum and many foreign collections hold his work.