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Beyond a few sparse facts we know little about Bebie. He was born in Switzerland about 1800 and spent his youth as a shepherd. He evidently had little artistic training, although he had exhibited paintings in European galleries before his arrival in America in 1842. After a brief stay in Virginia he moved to Baltimore, and by 1850 he was listing himself as "H. Bebie, artist" in the city directory. He was a skillful limner, but more interesting than his portraits are the curious paintings that he did for his own enjoyment and refused to sell. Some have a strong European flavor, and most are charged with a surreal quality as well as a pervasive eroticism.
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