UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Richard Claude Belt, ca 1854- d.1920

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1854 ca
Place of Birth: Westminster
Date of Death: 1920.11.17
Place of Death:

Identity:

In the 1881 census Richard Belt was recorded as a sculptor, living with his mother Eliza (then aged 60) who was dependant on her son's income, and with his brother Walter, also a sculptor (then aged 23), at 2 Cottage Road, London.

Life:

Richard Claude Belt was a sculptor. He exhibited between 1873 and 1885 at the Royal Academy, Grosvenor Gallery and Grafton Gallery.

In 1881 Belt brought a libel suit against the sculptor Charles Lawes, who accused Belt of fraudulent imposture. He claimed that Belt's work was not his own, but was done by others. The case was tried before Baron Huddleston of the Exchequer division from 21 June. Sir Hardinge Giffard (afterwards Lord Chancellor Halsbury) appeared as leading counsel for the plaintiff. Belt won and was awarded damages of £5,000. Belt v. Lawes was the last case tried in Westminster Hall and the longest case in British history, lasting forty three days and involving eighty two witnesses.

In March 1886 Belt was convicted of the fraudulent sale of jewellery to Sir William Abdy. He was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour. His brother Walter was acquitted.

Bibliography:

Vanity Fair, 20 August 1881; 'List of Trials. (Part IX)', Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, 21st Edition, to the Autumn of 1895, London, 1895; Obituary, Times, London, 19 November 1920, p. 10; Joseph Dean, Hatred, Ridicule or Contempt: A Book of Libel Cases London, 1953, p. 271; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Johnson, J. and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980.