Ocean House Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Ludwig Bemelmans with the Debut of the Bemelmans Gallery and Bemelmans Suite, Commemorating the 125th Anniversary of His Birth

The new Bemelmans Gallery is the largest permanent, private collection of work by Ludwig Bemelmans on public display in North America

WATCH HILL, R.I., April 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Ocean House pays homage to the beloved illustrator and author Ludwig Bemelmans on the 125th anniversary of his April 27, 1898, birthday with the announcement of the Bemelmans Gallery and Bemelmans Suite.

The curated Gallery collection, owned by the historic hotel’s proprietors Charles and Deborah Royce, includes original works, architectural commissions, illustrations of product campaigns, and illustrations of the beloved Madeline series. It is the largest permanent, private collection of work by Bemelmans on public display in North America, and showcases select pieces which have never been seen by the public before. The Gallery also features detailed didactics to bring meaning to various pieces in the collection.

The Bemelmans Suite, a crowning jewel of the Bemelmans story and connection to Ocean House, will be unveiled this May and will include ephemera, and images reflective of Bemelmans’ life and legacy, allowing history and trivia afficionados to enjoy the follies and background of the celebrated artist and writer.

Ludwig Bemelmans was an iconic, prolific, and witty artist and writer who continues to appeal to people of all ages,” said Deborah Goodrich Royce. “Many of his works portray all levels of society with humorous ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpses of hotel and café life. Naturally these playful pieces fit perfectly into our hotel setting. We are thrilled to share his storied legacy with our valued guests and visitors through this new Gallery and the Bemelmans Suite at Ocean House.”

Additional Bemelmans milestone offerings and amenities include the 2023 re-release of To the One I Love Best, a witty and charming account of the wildly entertaining Elsie de Wolfe in the 1950s; and the recent re-release of Bemelmans’ Hotel Splendide, which includes a cover quote from the late Anthony Bourdain affectionately referring to Bemelmans as “the original bad boy of the New York hotel scene.” 

Published by Pushkin Press and distributed by Penguin Random House, Hotel Splendide features autobiographical accounts of backstairs folly and more. In conjunction with the newly released Bemelmans’ classics, copies of the books will be in Ocean House’s guest rooms, and US readers have an opportunity to win a copy of each book plus a luxury stay in the Ocean House Bemelmans Suite for two. Details can be found here: https://bit.ly/BemelmansSS

Bemelmans Gallery Highlights

Farewell to the Ritz” (aka Adieu to the Old Ritz series) – These 21 story-telling drawings recount Bemelmans’ personal experiences from life at the Ritz in New York, including employee mentors, his taste for music, and his eventual own car as he became assistant banquet manager. When the hotel closed its doors in 1951, Bemelmans wrote and illustrated his now famous, “Farewell to the Ritz” in commemoration. It was this collection that sparked the Royce’s interest in Bemelmans work, when it was on display in a window at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC.

La Colombe Murals – Bemelmans created these murals for the beloved La Colombe bistro in Paris, which he purchased in 1953. His Fresco mural paintings were done with wet lime plaster, where he re-created life at the Ritz on the walls of his bistro. After La Columbe closed, the murals were removed and stored in a barn outside of Paris. Fortune turned again for the art of Bemelmans when Charles and Deborah Royce flew to Paris, assuring the current owners that they would be lovingly restored and enjoyed by guests from around the world.

Madeline – Illustrations in the Gallery follow the 12 young schoolgirls as they stroll the streets of Paris. Bemelmans captures the city’s parks, gardens and L ‘Arc de Triumph in “One Nice Morning,” and a depiction of young Madeline perched on a Seine River bridge from his book, “Madeline and The Bad Hat.” Also in the Gallery are two tall Madeline paintings, original pieces from the 15 panels Bemelmans created for the children’s dining room aboard Aristotle Onassis’ yacht “Christina O.”

About Ludwig Bemelmans

Ludwig Bemelmans left a lasting impact on modern day culture and children’s literature with his whimsical and witty style. Although he was most widely known for his Madeline series, he was a notable artist and relentless “connoisseur of life,” and he drew with a child’s eye and wrote with the wit of an adult. What few people know is Bemelmans deep connection to hospitality and travel. He was born into a hotel family and began his career in the industry, arriving in New York from his homeland of Austria at 16 and landing a job as a busboy at the Ritz Hotel in New York. He went on to become a banquet manager there, and his drawings and books offer a candid glimpse of the lives of individuals in the hospitality business and experiences in travel and dining. His legend lives on in hospitality through notable establishments like Bemelmans Bar in New York, and now Ocean House in Rhode Island.

About Ocean House

Located on the scenic Atlantic coast in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Ocean House was originally built in 1868, attracting distinguished guests. The grand Victorian hotel was a beach resort where generations of families and guests from American came ‘to summer.’ It closed in 2003 when it was deemed beyond repair and in 2004 the concept of a new structure replicating the original exterior design was conceived. In 2010, it reopened after a $140M historic rebuild and it features 49 guestrooms, 20 suites, and private cottage residences available for rent. Today, Ocean House is a year-round destination, one of only 14 Forbes Five-Star hotels in the world, and a member of Relais & Chateaux.


https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/lh9mdhgwd7x6375ntkcn1/h?dl=0&rlkey=sbp3vf7nlf655a43aysrmyqz1 (Credit: Ocean House)

Media Contacts:

Laurie Hobbs

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Leslie Lefkowitz

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