Framed: 18 1/4 x 28 3/4 inches
Hippolyte-Camille Delpy was born on April 6th, 1842 in the Burgundian region of France. His father Etienne Delpy was a pharmacist, a profession which afforded the Delpy family a comfortable existence. The elder Delpy hoped that his son would in turn become a pharmacist and continue in the family business. Yet, when the younger Delpy met the respected landscape painter Charles-Francois Daubigny, a friend of the family through Etienne's brother-in-law the engraver Lavoignant, Hippolyte became interested in pursuing more artistic endeavors. Daubigny often invited the young Delpy along on his walks and painting excursions.
Delpy was later accepted into the studio of the master Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot in Paris. Thus this young artist had the unique opportunity to study under two of the greatest landscape painters, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Charles-Francois Daubigny. The approaches of these two masters were, however, markedly different. Corot's style was more romantic and idealized, while that of Daubigny was more contemporary and realistic. For his own part Delpy captured the reality of nature while applying his own personal artistic reflections. As in the case of most landscape artists Delpy for many years lived an itinerant existence which led him to France, Holland, England, and even to the United States in search of potential idyllic landscapes suitable for his paintings.
In 1869 Delpy entered a still life painting entitled "A Luncheon During Lent, at My Father's House" in the competition at the Salon. This submission would be Delpy's first exposure to the world of artistic competition over a lifetime of entries that would span more than forty years. When Delpy later encountered financial difficulties, he held two public auctions of his works that met with success, a testament both to the popularity and the merit of his paintings during a period when many other landscape artists were also competing for the attention and the patronage of the public.
In the 1870's Daubigny met Camille Pissarro and Paul Cezanne, two prominent avant-garde painters of the day. As a result of their influence Delpy's brushstroke became more vigorous, while his color palette became more intense.
Towards the end of the 1880's with the encouragement of Théo Poilpot Delpy traveled to Washington, D.C. Along with a number of other artists he worked on a panoramic painting which portrayed the Battle of Manassas that took place in Virginia during the Civil War.
With the completion of this painting which had been well received Delpy returned to Paris where he submitted three paintings to the Exposition Universelle in 1889 along with such other artists as James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, and Berthe Morisot. That same year Delpy exhibited for the first time at the Galerie Artistes Modernes in Paris along the Rue de La Paix. In 1894 he held another exhibition of his works at the highly prestigious Galerie George Petit which was also in Paris. Delpy continued to show at the Salon exhibitions where he was bestowed "hors concours" status, an honor which permitted him to exhibit whatever he chose rather than having to endure the scrutiny of the jury selection process.
By 1909 Delpy's health was failing. His last Salon participation was in 1910. He died in his beloved Paris on Saturday June 4th, 1910, having enjoyed extraordinary success during his lifetime.
In Lavandières, Bord de Rivière Hippolyte-Camille Delpy combines the poetical style of his mentor Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot with the more naturalistic style of his other mentor and teacher Charles-Francois Daubigny. Delpy is a second tier Barbizon painter who very successfully took the best of his teachers and came up with an iconic style of his own. A romanticism infuses the picture, as the rich yellow sky idealizes the mundane activity of the washerwomen below, elevating their presence to one that poetically is in sync with nature. The picture also demonstrates Delpy's understanding of Daubigny's use and range of greens, although Delpy has a greater intensity of color that enlivens his work. Delpy consistently chose to depict washerwomen and spent his career doing so. The artists such as Delpy, Breton and L'Hermitte who chose to paint in the countryside versus Paris, felt that the peasants were closer to the land, to nature and subsequently to God. They had an empathy for these people, and they chose to depict them as connected to nature and in an elevated light.
Private Collection, France