Bello Bello

During the time José Moreno Benavente (yes, he's still in my 'In' tray) engraved for the Chilean Mint, he was responsible for the execution of many historical scenes and portraits of eminent people. It is great to compare the different engravings he made of any given subject. One of those recurring themes is the portraits of Andrés Bello.

Now Bello was born in Venezuela but lived all over the world (for those in London: why not find his blue plaque on 58 Grafton Way!), and therefore also in Chile, where he is best remembered for playing a pivotal role in writing the Chilean Civil Code of 1855.

Most works done in Chile to commemorate this man seem to be based upon a single portrait. This first appeared in 1942 on a stamp from a set marking the centenary of the University of Chile, where Bello was rector from 1843 to 1865.

Four years later, the same portrait was used for a set of two identical stamps, marking the eightieth death anniversary of Andrés Bello. Being more or less of the same size, I think I prefer the first version of this portrait. Moreno seems to have made a better job of the eyes especially on the 1942 engraving.

The Chilean Mint issued (issues?) a book every decade, called Memoria, highlighting their work produced in that decade. The books usually contained a number of special engravings, and quite a few of these either showcase Moreno's work or are special engravings by him. The book published in 1974 included a lovely large engraving of Bello, making use of that same portrait once again. The sheet marks the death centenary of Bello, as is noted below the portrait.

Remarkably enough, the actual stamp set to mark the death centenary of Bello, issued in 1965, made use of a different portrait, a rather melancholy one. A single stamp was issued to honour the man, and this was Moreno's final portrayal of him.

Of all those it is most definitely the large portrait for the Memoria book which I like best. To be fair, and only judging by the small amount of stamps I have of him so far, I think Moreno was on his best anyway, when working on larger engravings, such as for these special sheets or for banknotes. I have a few more stamps and other engravings of him on my want list so I'll be back soon-ish to do some more comparisons!