Painter, part of a French family of painters. Alexis-Simon Belle was a fashionable portrait painter of the early 18th century, although his reputation is overshadowed by that of his older contemporaries Hyacinthe Rigaud
and Nicolas de Largillierre.
His son Clment Belle (1722-1806) was a history painter who worked on tapestries for the Gobelins. Clment s son Augustin-Louis Belle (1757-1841) was also a history painter, working in the Neo-classical style.
Alexis-Simon Belle was the son of the painter Jean Belle (d 1703) who apprenticed him to the portrait painter Franois de Troy . In 1670 Belle won the Grand Prix ( Prix de Rome ) of the Acadmie Royale, but he turned down the opportunity to complete his education at the Acadmie de France in Rome, preferring to build up a clientele in Paris. Not until 1701, the year he married the miniaturist Anne Chron (1649-before 1718), however, did he become a court painter, moving to Saint Germain-en-Laye, where he worked for the exiled Stuart court. During this period he produced the portrait of Mlle Bthisy and her Brother as Children (Versailles, Chteau), a work that shows the influence of Rigaud
and Largillierre, although without their freedom in composition and brilliance in brushwork.
In 1703 Belle was received (reu) by the Acadmie Royale on presentation of three portraits, including the masterly three-quarter lengths of Franois de Troy and of the sculptor Louis Lerambert (both Versailles, Chteau). He exhibited for the first time at the Salon the following year, and again when the Salon was revived in 1725. He painted numerous portraits of members of the French court and associated notables, among them those of Louis XV and of his one-time fiance Maria Anna Victoria, Infanta of Spain, as well as those of Louis s wife Marie Leczinska and her father Stanislav I Leszczynski, King of Poland (all Versailles, Chteau). Engravings after Belle s work by, among others, Laurent Cars,
Franois Chreau I, Philippe Simonneau and the painter s second wife, Marie-Nicole Horthemels (1689-after 1745), whom he married in 1722, attest to his contemporary importance.