Belle Baranceanu Biography

Belle Baranceanu




Belle Baranceanu, painter, muralist, printmaker, and teacher, was born Belle Goldschlager in Chicago, Illinois on 17 July 1902 to Romanian Jewish parents. Belle graduated from West High School in Minneapolis in 1921 and from Minneapolis School of Fine Art, College of Art and Design in 1924. She remained at the Minneapolis School of Fine Art for post-graduate work under Anthony Angarola before moving to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1925/1926. In 1926, her painting, Riverview, Section, Chicago, was included in the Thirty-ninth Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. While at the Art Institute she studied with Angarola, Richard Lahey, Morris Davidson, and Cameron Booth. Angarola and Belle were romantically involved much to the disapproval of her father who sent her to Los Angeles to live with her uncle.

While in Los Angeles, Belle produced a series of lithographs and was included in the annual exhibitions of the Painters and Sculptors of Southern California held at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1927 and 1928. She kept her ties with Chicago and two of her paintings were included the Annual Exhibition by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity in 1927 and 1928. Angarola visited Belle in Los Angeles and in 1929 she returned to Chicago as the couple planned to wed but Angarola died in Paris on August 15 of that year. His death was a result of injuries from an automobile accident.

During the Depression Belle turned to teaching to support herself and taught at the Midwest Art Students' League in Chicago where she also studied printmaking with Todros Geller. She also taught at the American Boys Commonwealth, the Deborah Club, the Hebrew Schools of the Board of Jewish Education, and the Jewish Peoples Institute. She continued to paint and, in 1931, her landscape Wabash Avenue Bridge was awarded the Clyde M. Carr Prize for meritorious work in landscape during the Thirty-fifth Annual Exhibition of the Artists of Chicago and Vicinity. That same year a solo exhibition of her work was mounted at the Little Gallery in Chicago.

In 1932, Belle and her sister changed their surnames from their father's family name, Goldschlager, to their mother's family name, Baranceanu. That same year her family moved to San Diego, California and Belle joined them in 1933 after failing to establish herself independently in Los Angeles.

Under the Public Works of Art Project, Belle painted the mural, San Diego, in 1933 and the following year she painted the mural, Brothers of the Church, for the State Emergency Relief Administration. In 1935, she was hired to paint murals for the California Pacific International Exposition. Her mural Progress of Man was in the Hall of Education and her fresco, Girl with a Fawn, was in the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery. That same year she began her mural, Scenic View of the Village, for the La Jolla Post Office under the Treasury Relief Art Project. In 1936, Belle Baranceanu received a silver medal for achievement in art from the California Pacific International Exposition.

Between 1936 and 1939, Belle used linoleum block printings to create cover designs and illustrations for the Works Progress Administration's Curriculum Project books and, in 1939, she painted the mural The Seven Arts for the La Jolla High School auditorium. Into the 1940s she continued with mural painting but she also taught at the San Diego School of Arts and Crafts in La Jolla for five years and at the Francis Parker School in San Diego for twenty-one years between 1946 and 1960.

Baranceanu was member of the Chicago Society of Artists, the San Diego Print Club, and the San Diego Art Guild and was elected its president in 1950. Her work was also exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Carnegie Institute, the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Design, the Denver Art Museum, and the San Diego Historical Society. A major retrospective of her work was mounted in 1985 at the Mandevillle Gallery at the University of California, San Diego. Her work is in the collections of the Asheville Art Museum, the Irving Museum, the Library of Congress, the San Diego Historical Society, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Belle Goldschlager Baranceanu died in La Jolla, California on 10 January 1988.