Delphin Enjolras drew inspiration from the lives of the haute bourgeoisie and aristocracy of early twentieth-century French society. The soft-focus effect achieved by using a single light source to illuminate a scene realised in his delicate brushstrokes is in evidence here. The present work is a portrait of domestic bliss, laced with erotic potential.
Born in Coucouron, in the Ardèche region of Southeastern France, Enjolras went on to study in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Léon Gérôme, one of the key exponents of the Academic style that would dominate the mainstream of European art in the late XIX and early XX centuries, and against which radical movements such as Impressionism and Fauvism opposed themselves. Among his peers at the Beaux-Arts was Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret, who became a leading figure in the naturalist school of painting, and Gustave-Claude-Étienne Courtois. He later entered the École de Dessin, where he studied under Gaston Gérard.
Academicism, named for the fact that it was the mode taught at the registered academies, was by the time that Enjolras came to artistic maturity the most popular style in France. Exhibitions such as the Paris Salon and the Salon d’Automne attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors in the course of their two-month runs, during which paintings were hung grid-like on the venue’s walls. Enjolras, a regular exhibitor at the Salon of the Societaire des Artistes Français (to which he was elected a member in 1901), worked in Paris and in the South of France, painting portraits, nudes and interiors in oil, watercolour and pastel. He also created a series of fine landscapes, the most notable of which can be found in the museums of Puy and Calvet d’Avignon.