Hippolyte Camille Delpy(1842 - 1910)
Barbizon, Fontainebleau, Auvers, Paris, Bois-le-Roi, l’Oise, Dieppe, Honfleur, Le Havre – this list represents just a sampling of the many cities to which Hippolyte-Camille Delpy escaped in search of an idyllic landscape suitable for the subject of his paintings. Delpy’s itinerant lifestyle, typical of other landscape painters, took him throughout
Delpy came from a moderately wealthy family from Joigny, in the Burgundy region of
Under the influence of Daubigny, Delpy was sent to
In 1862, Delpy was called on to fulfill his military duties, which kept him occupied until July of 1863, after which point Daubigny introduced him to Corot, whose atelier along the rue Paradis Poissonnière in Paris, Delpy began to frequent. Corot was an influential figure in the Parisian art scene; one of the first artists to introduce to nineteenth century audiences, landscape painting that was, for the most part, devoid of historical narrative. Though these years working under both Corot and Daubigny were of seminal importance for establishing Delpy’s style, little is known about this period of Delpy’s life. It is not until 1869, the year of his first Salon entry, that Delpy’s name begins to be continually recognized among those of the other leading nineteenth century artists.
Apart from being accepted for the first time at the Salon, the year 1869 was marked by extensive traveling for Delpy, a pattern that had been established early on and one that would remain a consistent characteristic of his life. He divided his time between his two masters, earlier in the year joining Corot in Ville d’Avray and later returning to the company of Daubigny at Auvers, where he met several other artists, including his future father-in-law, Aman Cyboulle, a flower painter. Interspersed between these periods studying the landscape, he managed to return to Joigny to spend time with his family. Though his first Salon entry, Un Déjeuner de Carême, chez mon père (A Luncheon during Lent, at my father’s house), a still life, his experience in Corot’s studio and alongside Daubigny painting en plein air, the young artist had begun on his path to artistic success. His 1869 debut would begin a career at the Salon that spanned over 40 years.
Over the course of the next year and into 1871,
The saddest face would leave this studio happy; here one can work and laugh at the same time. This convivial artist with a warm face is both hospitable and frank; he does not pretend to be an art pundit as he is not yet a pundit of art; at the same time he works and occasionally tells a bawdy joke.
By 1873, Delpy had relocated again, this time to Auvers, partly because of Daubigny. Delpy also encountered Pissarro and Cezanne at Auvers. Daubigny’s influence on Delpy’s paintings was not lost on the critics of the time, as one critic, writing for Le Courrier de Joigny (May 30th, 1874), Delpy’s hometown newspaper, remarked that:
Mr. Camille Delpy is Daubigny’s pupil. It is evident. This painting is full of freshness: the accuracy of the colors the precision of the forms, the perfect harmony of the whole makes this landscape very pleasant. When one sees what the artist has made of it, one feels like buying a ticket at the St. Lazare train station and going to Auvers.
Though Delpy was often overshadowed by his famous master, he would eventually become recognized for his own talents, for his own “attractive melancholy” (La France, April 10th, 1875) that could be found in his paintings. One critic, writing in La République Française (February 14th, 1876), wrote poignantly how “Mr. Delpy has revealed himself as a young landscape painter combining Corot’s poetical style with Daubigny’s more naturalistic style in a way that did not exclude his own personality.” Perhaps the melancholic aspect present in his work could be linked to the death of one of his beloved masters, Corot, who died this same year on February 22nd.
Delpy, despite the death of his second master and the forthcoming death of his first master, Daubigny, traveled extensively during the year of 1875, but returned to Paris where he remained a short while, until 1876 when he moved yet again to Bois-le-Roi. Bois-le-Roi was situated near
It was a period of financial strain in Delpy’s life and he was forced to organize a sale at the Hotel Drouot for his paintings, of which 37 were landscapes, 7 were seascapes and 4 were decorative panels. His sale was a notable enough event for a mention in the Parisian journal, La Presse (February 14th, 1876), which made mention of this:
…artistic event that does not concern the theatre but deserves full attention. An outstanding artist from the young school of landscape painters and the glory of each of our annual Salons, Mr. H.C. Delpy, is selling forty-five paintings of a capital interest at the Hotel Drouot tomorrow on Monday…No doubt, the amateurs will fight over the paintings of an artist who continues with dignity the work of Corot and of Daubigny and combines the first one’s charm to the second’s energy.
The sale was a success and each of the 45 paintings put up for auction were sold. Just three years later, however, Delpy found himself in the same financial position and held yet another public sale at the Hotel Drouot, this time comprised of thirty-five paintings, all of which were sold. Throughout the next several years he continued submitting paintings to the Salons as well as maintaining his busy travel schedule. The success of each of his public auctions reflects the popularity of this landscape painter during a period when many other landscape artists vied for equal attention.
In 1883, Delpy took part in a witty exhibition entitled “The Salon of the Incoherent Arts,” organized to assist the poor of
The next year, 1884, Delpy saw continued success at the annual Salon. Commenting on his Salon entry Les Bords du Morin a Esbly (Seine-et-Marne) (The Banks of the Morin at Esbly (Seine-et-Marne)), Mr. E. Borghese wrote that (L’Eclaireur, May 17th, 1884):
…Mr. Delpy’s work is brilliant. A significant talent is there. The artist has tackled the complexity of the landscape: the green has been used in a masterly way: the whole range is there without any clashing brightness, without any loud note, in a homogenous tonality and a perfect harmony. The water is beautiful and Daubigny, his master would have signed it. This year Mr. Delpy has established his pedigree.
Despite this laudatory praise, Delpy’s paintings did not sell as rapidly as his output, but yet he organized another successful exhibition sale at the Hotel Drouot before taking a long trip through
When the hour became extremely difficult, when life’s problems became more distressing than their solutions seemed possible, he found refuge in his art and would visit nature to realize his sorrow. He would go towards some far horizon, towards light and nature and would find solace while painting many pictures. His brush comforted his distressed mind and brought him peace. (Untitled quote, October 1908)
During the latter half of the 1880s, Delpy met Théo Poilpot who encouraged him to go to
He returned to
In 1900, when Delpy had exhibited prolifically both at the annual Salons and local galleries, he began to work more often in his studio instead of directly outdoors. He participated in the Salon of 1900, where he received a second place medal, in addition to participating in the Exposition Universelle. At this point he was considered “hors concours” allowing him to submit whichever works he chose to the annual Salon, without the scrutiny of the jury. Over the next several years, Delpy also began exhibiting at provincial Salons, such as that of
Time sped by, the masters have fallen asleep in a glorious evening: and Delpy, tireless at his easel, did not stop painting canvases that impressed the connoisseurs and the established his reputation. If one only considered his mirth, his never being short of eloquence and his talent that is constantly renewed, one would be tempted to say: “He is a young artist.” But there is the considerable work: this ceaseless production of forty years, this intelligent understanding of nature full of emotion; and at last all the paintings united in this exhibition, pieces of an anthology which are profitable to study, and then one says, “Here is a master”.
By 1909, forty years after his debut at the Salon, Delpy’s health began to deteriorate progressively, forcing him to stay in bed for several months. He exhibited for the last time at the 1910 Salon showing Paysans Fuyant devant l’Inondation a Mortot (Eure) (Peasants Fleeing From the Flood at Mortot (Eure)), before passing away on Saturday, June 4th, 1910.
It was his good friend, Roger Milès, who wrote of Delpy with respectful praise in an obituary from 1910:
No artist’s life was more full of art, more hardworking, more capable, thanks to his will power and philosophy, to triumph over more obstacle than his was. At the most difficult times, at those moments when the problems of existence arose with a harrowing tenacity and their salutations appeared unsolvable, he would go towards air, towards the intoxication of atmosphere and find solace in creating large studies that would bring to his distressed soul the numbing warmth of healthy relief. And this is because he asked that his art – of which Corot and Daubigny had been his godfathers – provide comforting joy, and that he never wanted to make it a vain stage show…The man was as interesting as the painter; but while the first one was sentimental, the second was a bright conversationalist, a wit of the finest and most pleasant skepticism but a sure and delicate friend in his expansiveness.
Delpy had achieved a phenomenal success both during and after his lifetime. His paintings render nature with realistic tones but also with a sentimental feeling gleaned from an understanding of the methods of both Corot and Daubigny.
The biographical information and the English quotes in the biography were based on Michèle Lannoy-Duputel’s Hippolyte-Camille Delpy, 1842-1910: Invitation au Voyage,
Click on any image to enlarge it and see more information about the work.
Hippolyte Camille Delpy
(1842 - 1910)
Le Rivierea pont sur Yvonne
Oil on canvas
28 1/4 x 39 1/4 inches
Signed and dated '98