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R E Belilios 'Billy'



Inscribed with title and 6.i.1910 on reverse

Watercolour on board

12 x 6 ¾ inches

Frank Harris;
Stanley Jackson;
The John Franks Collection

Vanity Fair, 6 January 1910, Men of The Day no 1210, 'Billy'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 183

'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 89

Known as ‘Billy’, Raphael Emanuel Belilios was a barrister and son of a Hong Kong-based businessman and opium dealer. Admitted to Middle Temple in 1900 and called to the bar in 1903, Belilios occupied chambers at Middle Temple from 1904 to 1922.

“Mr R. E. Belilios, the only son of the late Honourable Emmanuel Raphael Belilios, brings to politics many advantages of temperament and training. He has had much experience at the Bar, to which he was called in 1903, thereafter practising at the North London Sessions. The practice in public speaking and the readiness which such a training brings is supplemented by a degree of self-assurance and decision of potent influence with an average audience. With a varied and complete mental outfit, arranged with legal precision and orderliness, Mr. Belilios gives the impression of being untroubled with doubts and uncertainties. He knows his subjects as a good scholar knows a geometrical proposition, logically and absolutely, but with none of the nuances and half-lights which trouble less gifted men. These characteristics all tend to success in a public man, and it is not surprising to find Mr. Belilios rapidly justifying the predictions of his friends.

Personally, he is one of the most charming of men, with an unassuming manner which it would be unwise to interpret as representing his ultimate opinion of himself. He is a pointed and ready speaker, going instantly to the heart of a matter, and able to express himself with precision and pungency. Few men are better fitted to deal with a hostile audience; his generous frankness, his amusing readiness, and the firmness with which he at all times retains control of affairs wins the respect of his listeners, and his enthusiasm and self-reliance prove contagious. In politics, Mr. Belilios is a strong Tariff Reformer, and is particularly interested in promoting such a union between England and her Colonies as would constitute a really independent Empire. His ideal is, in fact, to develop world commerce so as to constitute a kind of international co-operative society.

Mr. Belilios spends a good deal of his time abroad, at Hong Kong, where he has extensive interests, and has made various lengthy tours in different parts of the world. He is still under thirty, and has all the ability and opportunity necessary to carry him far if he wishes. Everyone speaks well of him, save those who have had the black misfortune to be cross-examined by him. As a cross-examiner he is coldly merciless, and does not indulge in mistaken sympathy for his victim.

Possessed of strong political ambitions, he has every requisite trait to ensure their fulfilment. Unfortunately, he is rich.”