Towards spanning skies of transcendent beauty wind lonely roads in the evocative landscapes of 19th-century artist Charles Delfont. An artist, unfortunately, lost to time, Delfont’s works are incredibly successful in their studies of light and colour, perhaps suggesting attendance at one of the fine art academies of Europe.
There is strong evidence to indicate the artist was based either in France or Belgium. His work seems to take much inspiration from the French Barbizon School. A commune of painters who worked in the Fontainebleau region, the Barbizon School was one of the first groups in Europe to paint en plein air, meaning outside. They took their inspiration from nature, which became the focus of their works, something fairly revolutionary in French art.
Delfont’s works are strongly reminiscent of a number of these artists, such as Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867). The many moods and textures of nature are reflected in the application of paint to the canvas, which is in itself emotive. His choice of colours, as already discussed, is glorious. It captures the dawning of the winter sun, the tenacity of golden light as it stretches across frozen fields and skeletal foliage.
Many of Delfont’s works seem to focus on more turbulent scenes and skies, adding interest and variety. In this way, they are also reminiscent of the Hague School, the German counterparts of the Barbizon School, who focussed more on darker tones and colour palettes.
It seems strange that an artist of such skill has slipped through history’s fingers. Nonetheless, Charles Delfont’s works remain as reminders of his incredible skill, and of the influences steering French art in the 19th century.