Charles Ernest de Belle was born in in Budapest, Hungary, in 1873. His uncle encouraged him to pursue drawing and painting at an early age. On his 16th birthday he went to Paris where he studied under Mihaly Munkacsy. He won several scholarships and an annual grant from the Royal Academy which enabled him to travel and study in Europe.
In 1893 he moved to London, England, where he worked as an illustrator for the Illustrated London News, Lady's Pictorial, Blackie & Son, and William Collins & Sons. He spent some time in Ireland, there he completed illustrating for The Dublin Times, he also met his future wife during this time, later bringing her back to England.
During his artistic development, he mastered his own method of fixative for his pastel work and often mounted his pictures between two pieces of glass. It wasn’t until about 1904 that he started working in oils. It is believed the shift to oil paints was a result of an illness that restricted the use of his hands.
In 1912 with his wife and children, he came to Canada and settled in Montreal. His paintings consisted of portraits and landscapes. His winter scenes have been recognized as exceptional.
He held two large solo shows in Montreal, one at the home of Lady Mortimer Davis in 1923 followed by another at the home of Mrs. Edward Maxwell in 1925.
He presented his painting In Flanders Fields where poppies grow in 1919 to McGill University. The painting was created in memory of Dr. McCrae, a professor at the university and the author of ‘In Flanders Fields’.
He died in 1939.
De Belle’s work can be found at the National Gallery of Canada, The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Parliament Buildings, and the home of the Lieut. Governor of Quebec.