Oil on canvas, Signed lower right
Dimensions: H. 74 cm x W. 54 cm (with frame: H. 95 x W. 75 cm)
Delphin Enjolras was born in Ardèche in 1857. He showed an early aptitude for drawing. In 1882, he continued his studies in Puy-en-Velay. Three years later, he entered the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where his teacher was Gérôme, one of the greatest French orientalists of the second half of the 19th century. He also studied with watercolorist Gaston Gérard at the Paris drawing schools. In the 1890s, he moved to the South of France and quickly mastered the pastel technique for portraits of aristocratic ladies. His mastery of richly colored pastels earned him the nickname "painter of reflections": lamp light, fireplace flames, the brilliance of illuminations. He enjoyed great success in France and abroad. Enjolras exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français, of which he became a member in 1901.
While Delphin Enjolras produced a large number of pastels, he also produced superb oil paintings, which are much rarer and more expensive than his pastels. A journalist speaking of his work in 1900 said: Enjolras compositions, with their charming subject matter and coloring, exude an impression of freshness and youth that only he can produce, and which is the reason why they are so well received by those who love impeccable form and beauty.
Our painting is a large-scale oil on canvas. If female representations are the hallmark of this artist, nudes are actually rather rare. We date this one to circa 1920, much earlier than the many stiff "terrace compositions" the artist produced until 1940.
Like all prolific artists, Enjolras produced numerous works in a somewhat "serial" fashion, relying on a perfectly mastered technique, but processing details too quickly. Here, every part of the painting has been worked with precision and virtuosity: the face and skin tone, wonderfully nuanced by the light of the lamp, the bouquet of flowers in the translucent vase, the beauty products and the mirror with their reflections treated in full pate, the sublime suppleness of the negligee, make this nude an exceptional work.
This painting is in absolutely perfect condition, on its original canvas and in a beautiful Louis XV-style gilded wood frame.
Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseille (MuCem),
Le Puy en Velay
Museum of Fine-Arts, San Francisco