Frank Bellew was born in India, possibly to Captain Francis-John and Anne Smoult Temple (Colburn 1374). While growing up, Bellew also lived in France and England before moving to New York City in 1850. Once in New York, he worked as a caricaturist and illustrator for numerous publications including Yankee Notions, The Lantern, the New York Picayune, Nick-Nax, Vanity Fair, Harper's Weekly, Harper's Monthly, and Scribner's Monthly. One of Bellew's more memorable illustrations is a cartoon in the Picayune which depicts Edward G. P. Wilkins, John Brougham, Boucicault, Cornelius Matthew, Charles Gayler, Fitz-James O'Brien, and Benjamin A. Baker as "playwrights registering their dramatic works before the first copyright law went into effect" (Miller 52). Bellew also created illustrations for books, including T. B. Gunn's Physiology of the New York Boarding-House (1857), John T. Irving's The Attorney (1853), and his own The Art of Amusing (1866). Works like "My Mural Chum" and "The Lonely Grave" also indicate that Bellew dabbled in poetry. He was a prolific artist whose "inexhaustible fund of ideas" allowed him to work as an illustrator for over thirty years (Weitenkampf).
Bellew's association with Pfaff's is uncertain; some sources describe him as a regular while others classify him as a visitor. It is clear, however, that Bellew maintained friendships with several Pfaffians including his former roommate, Fitz-James O'Brien, Thomas Butler Gunn, and Thomas Nast, whom Bellew found "amusing" (Paine 22). Bellew is also the artist of the popular New York Illustrated News “Round Table” image depicting the interior of Pfaff’s. Though not specifically placing Bellew within the beer-cellar, the illustration may support Bellew’s knowledge of Pfaff’s and those who drank within its walls. Renowned publisher, J. C. Derby, may also help establish Bellew’s position within the group, calling Bellew one of the "brightest and most popular humorous men of the day,” Derby goes on to name Bellew alongside other known Pfaffians commenting that, "the noonday hour frequently found most of them at Pfaff's celebrated German restaurant, in a Broadway basement, near Bleecker-street, the rendezvous at that day of the so-called Bohemians" (239).
Thomas Butler Gunn also included several entries in his diary concerning Bellew’s personal characteristics and relationship to the group. Described by Gunn, as “powerfully built ---a Sail among artists”, Bellew was at first received negatively by the diarist:”At the outset and for some years, I detested him heartily and he returned the compliment” (13.174). But later, Gunn confesses and clarifies that the mutual detestment did not last: “In demeanor I never knew a truer gentleman or indeed any one who would bear comparison with him. good-breeding about him, which contrasts strongly with us, whose manners get knocked awry by circumstance and atrocious surroundings” (13.174). Gunn also seems to allude to a possible romantic attraction between Bellew and Ada Clare and the discretion needed when speaking to Bellew’s wife about his visits to Pfaff’s: “Once when he and Cahill had dropped in at Pfaff’s, on their way to dinner at Bellew’s, he remarked with a half-laugh that Mrs. B. didn’t like his going thither, as she had heard that ‘Ada Clare’ had said he was the handsomest man she knew &c. ‘It was a hint not to speak of the visit to Pfaff’s, which of course Cahill adopted. It can hardly be a happy household that at 21st street” (18.168).
In 1888 Bellew suffered several months of failing health and forced bedrest. Succombing to his illness on June 28th, Bellew died in his daughter’s home in Long Island. His obituary in the New York Times links him not only to his popular “Triangle” signature, but also to fellow well-known Pfaffians: “A few of his former chums, such as Ed Underhill, Frank Cahill, and Walt Whitman, with perhaps enough others to count on the fingers of one hand, alone have personal recollections of him when he was at his best. They all speak of him as pleasant, and full of anecdote, and a thoroughly companionable and lovable man to the end” (“A Veteran Artist Dead”).
He is mentioned as one of the "brightest and most popular humorous men of the day," known to rally around the book store of George W. Carleton. Derby notes that "the noonday hour frequently found most of them at Pfaff's celebrated German restuarant, in a Broadway basement, near Bleecker-street, the rendezvous at that day of the so-called Bohemians" (239).[pages:239]
Mentioned as one of the Bohemians at Pfaff's "gossiped" about by Rufus B. Wilson in a "reminiscent letter to the Galveston News."[pages:479]
This text identifies the following pseudonym: Triangle (96).[pages:96]
Bellew, a transplanted Briton who came to America to pursue a career in painting, is noted for his particular love of the duck-billed platypus. Bellew persuaded the owner of a new restaurant on Spring Street in New York to name is after the creature. "Gathering regularly there, he and his friends 'talked, sang, joked, drank beer, and smoked church-warden pipes'" (47).[pages:47, 48, 49]
Seymour mentions discussing the controversy surrounding The Diamond Lens with "Mr. O'Brien's friend, a celebrated artist of this City... who was also one of Mr. N[orth]'s friends." This artist admitted that he gave the idea for the story to O'Brien, but had forgotten that North had told him this idea long ago. The artist was most likely Frank Bellew, who was a friend of both authors and was later identified by William Winter as one of two possible sources for the idea behind The Diamond Lens.
"Francis Henry Temple Bellew, an artist, painted a sign representing the Ornithorhynchus smoking a pipe while grasping a glass of beer" (15).
Bellew published a cartoon in the Picayune which depicted Edward G. P. Wilkins, John Brougham, Boucicault, Cornelius Matthew, Charles Gayler, Fitz-James O'Brien, and Benjamin A. Baker as "playwrights registering their dramatic works before the first copyright law went into effect" (52).[pages:15, 52]
O'Brien states that Bellew's "imaginative power and sense of humor are not surpassed, perhaps, by any living caricaturist."[pages:513]
Bellew is mentioned as a frequenter of Pfaff's who, along with others, found Nast "amusing" and "took him to theatres and other cozy resorts and 'showed him the town'" (22).
A Bellew illustration of Nast appears on page 254.[pages:22,94,254,265,335]
Parry writes that the "romantic souls shed tears reading his [North's] letter to his friends, the artist Bellew and his wife" after his suicide. North's letter to the Bellews read:
"May you be happy! Do not regret me. I am not fit for this world, I fly to a better world. I am calm and brave and hopeful" (49).[pages:49]
Starr writes that in the days prior to the Civil War, like many others in New York, the "Pfaffians were exposed increasingly to the clamour of a world beyond their ken. Something like a revolution was afoot in the realm of journalism, a revolution that would lift these light-hearted pranksters from their subterranean retreat ad whirl them in its vortex. Soon O'Brien, Aldrich, Thomson, Williams, and Stedman, together with others in Clapp's happy coterie--Charles G. Halpine (who stammered to fame at Pfaff's, speaking inadvertantly of 'H-H-Harriet Beseecher Bestowe'), William Conant Church, William Swinton, E.H. House, Charles Henry Webb, a couple of artists, Frank H. Bellew and Thomas Nast: in all more than half of the identifiable clientele at the Cave--would take the field along with hundreds of other youths of like mind to participate in the greatest undertaking in the history of journalism" (9).
The Tribune staff recieved information that Lee's army was moving north to Pennsylvania (leading to the Battle of Gettysburg), but they were short-staffed and needed to "enlist" others to help cover the Southern army's movements. Bellew, who usually drew for the New York Illustrated News during the war, offered to help. Starr writes, however, that Bellew "unfortunately...had saddle boils and was of small use" (204). Starr places Bellew among the "Tribune men": Sypher, Grey, Newbould, Bellew, Shepherd, and Byington, who were covering the war when "Meade's forces took up positions they would make historic--Culp's Hill, Cemetary Ridge, Round Top--that beautiful second day of July." Starr also claims that "there were plenty of Bohemians on hand to record it" (210).[pages:9,204,210]
Mentioned in reference to the Bohemian Club, which may be a post-Pfaff's group of journalists, even though they are described here as frequenting "Pfaaf's" [sic]. See Thomas Dunn English's "That Club at Pfaaf's [sic]."[pages:64]
Bellew was a member of a New York group of artists and writers that existed before the Pfaff's Bohemians that also included Gayler, North, Eytinge, Charles G. Rosenberg, Seymour, and O'Brien. Winter was not a member of this group; all of its members are dead at the time of Winter's writing. Winter states, "That society, unlike the Pfaff's coterie, was, after a fortuitous fashion, organized, and it had a name,--the remarkable name of the Ornithorhyncus Club." The club was named after a Duck-Billed Platypus; "the singular aspect of that quadruped had attracted the amused attention of Bellew, an excellent artist; and, when as happened, a German widow, poor, and wishful to retrieve her once opulent fortune, opened a restaurant, in Spring Street, and wanted a name for it, he suggested that of the eccentric Australian beast, and merrily persuaded her to adopt it; and he painted a sign for her, which was hung in front of the house, representing the Ornithorhyncus in the act of smoking a pipe, while grasping a glass of foaming beer." The sign and the restaurant became a meeting place for this group (308-309).
Winter reprints (from his own collection) Seymour's letter to Bellew, informing him of North's suicide. The letter is dated November 17,1854, and is addressed to 158 Nassau Street, NY (313-314).
Winter also reprints (from his own collection) a letter written from North to Bellew and his wife before his suicide. The letter is addressed: "To F.T. Bellew and Mrs. Bellew" and reads: "Dear Friends: --May you be happy! Do not regret me. I am not fit for this world. I fly to a better life. I am calm and brave and hopeful. Ever affectionately and truly, W. North" (317).[pages:308-309,313-314,317]
An intimate friend and former roommate of O'Brien.[pages:1, 32, 37, 39, 49, 64, 67, 72-73, 113, 115, 138, 158, 177, 186, 241, 248]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015