Dom Paul Bellot


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French architect and Benedictine monk, a disciple of Choisy and Viollet-le-Duc, trained (1894–1901) at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He designed many buildings in Belgium, England, France, The Netherlands, and Portugal. He was responsible for the Benedictine Monastery of St-Paul-de-Wisques, Oosterhout, Brabant, The Netherlands (1906–20), which greatly impressed Berlage. Quarr Abbey, IoW (1907–14), his outstanding architectural achievement, is a master-work of Expressionism in brick, with a church of 1911–12 that is wholly original, having a short, low nave, a long choir, and a stunning eastern tower with brick arches inspired, perhaps, by the Moorish architecture of Spain. It astonished Pevsner, no less. Bellot established a studio at Oosterhout, and later (from 1928) at St Paul's Abbey, Wisques, near Saint-Omer, France, and explored the architectural possibilities of load-bearing brick parabolic arches and corbelling, arguing that such investigations were more in the spirit of medieval architecture than was possible in a strictly archaeologically based Gothic Revival. Among his finest buildings are the glowing polychrome Church of Notre-Damedes-Trévois, Troyes (1931–4), the Convent Church of Ste-Bathilde, Vanves (1933–6), both in France, and the lovely Church at Bloemendaal (1923–4), in The Netherlands.

He visited Montreal, Canada, in 1934, to give a series of lectures (published in 1939) in which he stressed that the modern architect should emulate, not imitate, the lessons of the Middle Ages, and also in which he roundly denounced Le Corbusier as an ‘architecte bolchéviste militant’: these lectures promoted the building of several churches in what became known as the ‘Dom Bellot style’, featuring parabolic arches, polychrome brickwork, and powerful geometries. Bellot's disciple Adrian Dufresne (1904–82) designed the Church of Ste-Thérèse-de-Lisieux, Beauport, near Quebec City (1936), in that style, partly influenced by Bellot's own Church at Noordhoek, The Netherlands (1921–2). Bellot himself, with Félix Racicot (1903–73) and another architect-monk, Dom Claude-Marie Côté, designed (1935) spectacular additions to the Abbaye de St-Benoît-du-Lac, begun in 1939, a dramatically composed work, with brick cloisters again featuring parabolic arches. At the Oratoire St-Joseph, Montreal, he worked with Lucien Parent (1893–1956) on the completion of the building, his principal contribution being the great polygonal concrete dome and the canted arches of the interior.

Bellot (1948);Culot & Meade (1996);Kalman (1994);Perspectives on Architecture, xxvii (Feb.–Mar. 1997), 54–7;P. Willis (1997)

Subjects: Architecture.

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