Dimitri Berea – “Flowers on the Veranda” (Circa 1974) Serigraph

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  • Posted by kindle

As a general rule I don’t usually frequent thrift type stores searching for inventory. That being said, I will occasionally visit one in search of music CDs and the odd item for myself.

On these rare occasions, sometimes I will spot something that speaks to me, and if I like it enough, I will purchase it. This happened to me recently when I found a print that I rather liked. I looked at it and saw it was signed and numbered, and even though it had gotten wet at some point and had some slight damage to the backing, the print was intact. So I bought it thinking I might hang it in my wife’s office or the house, after I had it placed in new matting and frame.

After returning with my purchase, I started to look up the artist. I discovered it was a serigraph, signed & numbered by Dimitri Berea. I found out he actually oversaw the printing himself and after finding several of the same edition having sold at auction, as well as other of his works, I was happy I purchased this little gem. The print is valued between $400 and $600 if you go by past auction results. I may never realize similar monies if I ever sell it, but I am pleased to have been able to rescue it, own it and  enjoy it. We all dream of finding that lost master work in someones attic or yard sale, and even though this is no lost Picasso or Dali, I am happy with my purchase.

Keep your eyes open as you never know what you may find. I have found two, my Berea and my Joep Nicolas.


Here is some background on Dimitri found on a website dedicated to him.

Born to an upper middle-class family in Bacau, Romania, Dimitrie Berea became an artist who would later be known as painter to the aristocratic and royal families of Europe and the art world of France and America. His father was a lawyer-politician and his mother was a painter trained at the French Ecole des Beaux Arts. Many parents would consider art a less than suitable career choice, but Dimitrie’s maternal family had been involved in the arts for a number of generations. So, at the age of nineteen, Dimitrie entered the Academy of Architecture, in Bucharest where he spent the next five years. While in the academy he and his master teacher, Theodorescu-Sion and a student friend, founded a non-conformist painting academy called “ILEANA”. This academy/school served progressive young artists. During the 1930s he became a rising young Romanian painter.

In 1937, the Italian government invited him to come to Rome and enroll “with compensation” at the Royal Academy of Fine Art to study painting, decoration, sculpture, scene-painting and engraving. The following year the Romanian government paid his expenses at the Roman Academy. Meanwhile he exhibited in various invitational exhibitions, hung one-person shows in private galleries in Romania and Italy and also traveled to Paris. In Paris (1939) he was an habitué of Marie Fontaine-Desjardins’ salon where he met the latter day impressionists Bonnard and Vuillard and the fauve artists Matisse and Van Dongen. Dimitrie Berea would later consider himself a pupil of Bonnard, or perhaps better, in sympathy with Bonnard’s painting style, paint application and color choices. In 1942 at the age of thirty-four, Berea received a diploma in each of the five branches of art he studied while at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Rome.

During the late summer of 1942, Berea hung a one-person show at the Palazzo Lancellotto, Rome, where the book Berea, written by poet and art historian Mario Rivosecchi, was available to the exhibition audience. Giuseppe Galassi, Antonio Petrucci and S. A. Luciani wrote a text about Berea for his exhibition at Kretzulescu Gallery’s Caminul Artei, Bucharest (1944); and still another book, this time written by Andre Warnod and also titled Berea was published in 1949. Here Warnod called Berea “a new apostle of the Paris School”. Concurrent with a 1951 exhibition of Venetian Landscapes (Galeria Cavalino, Venice) Berea wrote and published his “Venice Manifesto” which was later translated into Catalan and English. Biographical time lines, lists citing collectors and museums and quotes from various personalities and literati were published throughout his career in exhibition catalogs.

During the 1950s, Dimitre Berea became a French citizen and an active lecturer. These lectures were frequently associated with theme based exhibitions; for example he spoke formally about his “Profession of Faith”, “The work of art in its proper setting, “Atmosphere and climate”, “Art confronted by the abstract” and “The creative phenomenon”. His text and lecture concerning the “Venice Manifesto” was hotly contested in a number of different settings.

By the 1960s Berea was a frequent visitor to New York City, Miami, Palm Beach, San Francisco and Hollywood and at the same time had apartments in New York City, Paris and San Francisco. His first exhibition (1961) in the United States was at the Aquavella Gallery, in New York City. Berea continued to be a landscape painter of “proper settings” while in the United States but he also became a painter to the Hollywood community. Throughout his career he had accepted commissions as a portrait painter, but in this decade he received numerous commissions as painter to Hollywood movie stars.

Berea met and married a California socialite after his very successful retrospective at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. However, this marriage ended in divorce. In 1972, after having known her for three years, Berea married Princess Alice Gurielli. She had fled Europe after her family estates and property had been confiscated by the Communist government and had been imprisoned in utter privation for three years under Stalin. Her grandfather had been King of Georgia. She was a Romanian refugee (1966), sponsored by the Orthodox Church, drove a taxi in New York City, lived in Harlem and worked as a charwoman for numerous Romanian families in the New York metropolitan area. Princess Alice brought to the marriage good looks, charm, cultured sophistication and good business sense.

Dimitrie Berea was a “typical artist”. He wore his heart on his sleeve, was a romantic, was religious, loved people-especially beautiful women, lived his life to paint and had his head in the stars while his feet never touched the ground. He was an incompetent money manager and seemed always to be in debt. When Princess Alice married him (May 25, 1972) she essentially served as a manager of his talents, both painting and money, a role assumed by Saskia to Rembrandt. Princess Alice described the marriage as “an unbelievably chaotic adventure”. Their bliss was cut short by Dimitrie’s death to colon cancer (January 14, 1975) in Paris. After a Latin mass at the Madeleine he was interred in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery. Dimitrie’s remaining art works became the property of Princess Alice after a contested will. Many works were sold, but the remaining oil paintings and all the drawings, watercolors and prints are to be given to Berea College.

The paintings in the Berea College, KY, Collection indicate with great vitality Dimitrie Berea’s excitement with brushwork and intensity of color. The viewer can examine the paintings for the process and marks made by Berea’s hand, but one can also feel the emotion of the moment and the “flavorings” of the site or sitter. As critics and journalist have enumerated, it is his color that catches the eye. As a member of the “Paris School” he truly does marry the color of Impressionism with that of the wild seemingly uncontrolled energy of the Fauves. From interviews you would learn that he tended to be timid, shy and almost child-like but came fully alive with a sitter and brush and palette in hand. He was charming and vivacious; he was in his element. He was also single minded in his choice of the beautiful and spoke out against and would not paint the abstract or ugly. Landscapes dominate his early work, but his productive years in America are in large part portraits. He had an entrée and market in Hollywood, Palm Beach, Miami and New York. From a scan of a list of owners and collections it becomes quickly evident he is represented in virtually every major European museum, state collection and private royal collection.

Berea College is fortunate in the great quantities of drawings and watercolors in its collection. It is through these images that some sense of his artistic development can be traced as well as his globetrotting. Berea used virtually any marking instrument or ground on which to mark. His drawings and even watercolors can be found on café menus, newsprint, cardboard, artist board or high quality rag papers. He was obsessed with mark making. Often, as with Edgar Degas, he chose a tool that not only made a mark but also left a line of color. Drawings exist that also have watercolor washes over them that allowed the mark to bleed. Berea sought all manner of tool by which to express himself.

Berea College’s large collection of Dimitrie Berea is illustrative of passionate energy, rich saturated color and quantity of images. We possess the largest number of images by him in the world and are the repository of his papers and records, all a generous gift of Princess Alice Gureilli Berea Terres.



1908        Dimitrie Berea was born in Bacau, Romania on November 2. His mother a painter, his father, a lawyer.

1927-1932     Student at the Acedemy of Architecture, Bucharest.

1930        In Bucharest, together with Theodorescu-Sion, his then master, founded on the earliest academies of nonconformist painting, “Ileana.”

1932    Show at the Academy of Architecture’s annual art exhibition, Bucharest.

The Prize of Bucharest’s official Salon, where his works have hung regularly since 1928, is awarded to his portrait of Mlle. L.S. First one-man show at Bucharest’s Dalles Gallery.

One-man show at Lapusneanu Galleries in Jassy, the Moldave Country’s chief town, and at Casino    Galleries in the great Romanian harbor Constantza, inaugurated by Queen Mary of Romania.

1937    Leaves on invitation for Rome, with a special bursary from the Italian government. Studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

1938    Prix de Rome. Exhibition at the Romanian Academy of Prix de Rome.

1939    Decisive meeting with Marie Fontaine-Desjardins, chief muse of the Impressionists. In dedicating to her his first postwar exhibition at the Galerie Allard in Paris, Berea pays grateful homage to the Egeria with whom and through whom he has known Matisse, Van Dongen, Andre’ Lhote and       above all Bonnard, who he considers his real master.

1940    Exhibition in Rome at the Galeria delle Belle Arte inaugurated by King Vittorio Emmanuelle III.

1941    Exhibition at Milan, Galeria del Duomo, opened by the Minister of Fine Arts.

Receives diploma from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Important one-man exhibition in Rome at the Palazzo Lancellotto opened by the minister of National Education.

1943    Returns to Bucharest as successful candidate for appointments as director and curator of the Aman Museum.

1944    Exhibition at the Kretzulescu Gallery’s Caminul Artei.

1946    Returns to Paris for the exhibition dedicated to Marie Fontaine-Desjardins at the Galerie Allard.

1947    Exhibitions at the Athenee, Geneva and at Chichio Haller’s, Zurich. Meeting with Leon-Paul Fargues, Lucien Fabre, Alain Bedel and Gerard Bauer of whom the artist paints well-known portraits, as one of the literary Tout — Paris.

1948    Exhibitions held at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, round the portrait of Leon-Paul Fargues: “Visages de Paris”; Galerie Lanmark, “Montmartre Landscapes”; and Fine Arts Gallery of Geneva.

1949    At another exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, Andre Warnod presents his book Berea.
– Shows portraits at Herve’s, Butte de Monmarte. Roland Dorgeles speaks of Berea as one of the first portraitists of our time, beside Kisling and Dongen. Exhibition at the Andre Weil Gallery, Paris.

Exhibitions-M.M.J.H. Bernheim-Jeune, Paris and Galeria Cavalino, Venice by Cardazzo- later called “Venice Manifesto,” which will be a book under the same title, prefaced y Maximilien Gauthier. At the exhibition “Landscapes of Venice,” Galerie d’Arte Hispanique, Paris, the artist presents and signs the first edition of the “Venice Manifesto.”
– Exhibition at the Circolo de las Bellas Artes, Madrid.  Also an exhibition at the Galerias Layetanas, Barcelona, where the “Venice Manifesto,” translated into Catalan, is discussed with ardor and violence at the celebrated cenacle Los Trascaccios. At the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, an exhibition “Bonnard, Vuillard, Berea,” allows Berea to view his works side by side with those of his masters.
1953    Invited by the British Government, Berea shows canvasses inspired by London decorated for the Coronation at Tooth & Son, London.

At the O’Hana Gallery, London, an exhibition, “Visions de France et d’Angleterre,” is opened by the Duchess of Kent. Berea meets Winston Churchill at 10 Downing Street, a political group having given the Premier one of his major works for an 80th birthday present. Exhibitions at Casino Gallery, Vichy and at the Edinburgh Festival, Whystock & Reid’s.

1955    Exhibitions at Moulins Museum and at Cannes, with Matisse and Picasso, Gallery 65.

1956    Exhibitions at M.M.J.H. Bernheim-Jeune as part of “Hommage a Bonnard” and Rohr Volmar’s Galerie des Remparts, Venice and Paris.

1957    “Vernissage Author d’un portrait,” at Hannah Becker von Rath’s Kunstkabinet, Frankfurt/Main preceded by a lecture by the artist: “Art confronted by the abstract and the creative phenomenon.”

1958    Meets Picasso at Cannes. Show at the Galerie du Belier –“Berea in the land of Picasso” with a lecture by the artist on the faux-pas in art. The Grand Prix Salondu Portrait is awarded by a jury of notables and art critics to Berea.

1959    The decorator, Chaurand, at Cannes, presents Berea canvasses on the theme “The work of art in its proper setting, creates atmosphere and climate.”

1960    Recent works show at Domenico’s, Cannes. “A Hundred Pictures by Berea,” at M.M.J.H.  Bernheim-Jeune, marked by a commemorative booklet with a reproduction in facsimile of a handwritten “profession of faith” by the artist. Official meeting with the Prince and Princess of Monaco in Berne. The occasion is the ceremony at which Prince Rainer presents the President acquired by the Principality.

1961    Invited to exhibit at Monte-Carlo, Galerie Rauch. Berea receives the Grand-Prix, hors concours, of the International Salon of Modern Art, Paris. Exhibition at Acquavella Gallery, New York.

1963    Double exhibition — Paris and London. Recent works. Seven pictures of London during the Coronation, a gift from Berea to the nation, are placed on exhibition at Guildhall.

1964    Inauguration of his great mural: “Hommage a Paris” triptych which represents the monumental symbols of the “Paris Universal Exhibitions”: Eiffel Tower, Alexander IIIrd Bridge and the Grand Palais at the Club of The Top of the Fair, New York.

1965    Exhibition at the DeYoung Museum, San Francisco.

1966    Exhibition Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco.

1967    Exhibition Palm Beach Gallery, Palm Beach.

1973    Exhibition Poinciana Gallery, Palm Beach and Service Culturel — Ambassade de France, New York.  Major exhibition at The Eric Galleries, New York.

1975    Dimitrie Berea dies in Paris of Cancer.

1990    Retrospective Exhibition of the Berea collection at Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers, New York.

Major Museum Retrospective at the Musee de Villefranche, France. Exhibition of selected works from 1941 to 1970, Ergane Gallery, New York.

Biography Credit: Robert Boyce, Berea College