Oil on panel
11 x 20 1/2 inches (27.9 x 52 cm)
Framed: 18 x 27 1/4 inches
Signed: H.C. Delpy
Hippolyte Camille Delpy was a landscape painter active in the late nineteenth century, well known today for his compositions representative of the Barbizon school. Delpy was trained under Corot and Daubigny, and developed his own work, influenced primarily by Daubigny. His landscapes can be described as naturalist, resulting from a direct observation of nature. Delpy made his debut as a Salon painter in 1869. He enjoyed considerable success, and was awarded medals and honorable mentions for his works. He became a member of the Societe des Artistes Francais in 1896, and participated in the World Exposition of 1900. The city of Paris held two major exhibitions of his work in 1890 and 1908.
Our painting is a sensitive, richly colored depiction of the French countryside. Pictured is an expansive landscape in which grassy banks flow gently into the edges of the river. To the left, a tree’s long feathery branches stretch up into the pink sky, offering shelter to the three female figures washing clothes in the water. The time is late afternoon or early evening, a fact indicated by the quality of light found in the sky, and by the long shadows cast across the calm river waters. The billowy clouds unfurl across the horizon line, framed by the pink and yellow tinged sky. Delpy’s gift for the relation of natural beauty is quaintly exemplified here. The artist deftly portrays the brilliant, yet subtle, interplay of colors found at sunset: a palette infused with purple, yellow, blue, green and brown. Simultaneously, he skillfully achieves a harmony of shapes, and patterns of light and shadow that visually anchor the painting for the viewer. But the painting’s exemplification of technical mastery is hardly the main thing one notices in viewing our landscape. As one’s eye travels from the cottony lavender clouds to the birds dipping near the water’s surface, the luminous colors melt into a place of serene tranquility and timeless beauty.