‘The Wedding, Fontainebleau’: large oil painting by Delort

By Delort, Charles Édouard (French, 1841-1895)


Rendered in vibrant colours, this superb large-scale oil painting by Delort depicts a wedding scene amid the Fontainebleau Forest.


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Expertly painted in the late 19th century, this lively artwork radiates the luxury associated with the French Belle Époque. Entitled ‘Les Noces, Fontainebleau’ (‘The Wedding, Fontainebleau’), a group of immaculately dressed men and women gather in a corner of the idyllic forest of Fontainebleau, as a wedding reception takes place.

French painter Charles Édouard Delort (1841-1895) studied under Gabriel-Charles Gleyre and Jean-Léon Gérôme at the École des Beaux-Arts. Delort is most well-known for his genre paintings which depict 18th century scenes, usually of a smaller size. ‘Les Noces’, therefore, is an impressive departure from his usual style, employing a larger scale and utilising the growing bourgeoisie of his own society as his subjects.

The viewer is drawn to the centre of the composition, where a group of fashionably dressed women surround a bride. Dressed in a glowing white dress, she greets a male guest – dressed in a soldier's uniform - who bows before her. Various groups of figures are dotted around the rest of the scene, chatting informally amongst themselves, and likely commenting on the wedding party around them. Even in this one snapshot, Delort effectively conveys the social dynamics of his contemporary society, where the rising upper-middle classes delighted in both watching and being watched. Of note is the woman in the purple dress in the central group. By having her stare straight out of the canvas at the viewer, Delort implicates the viewer in the party scene, cleverly inviting us into the action.

As in the scenes of Belle Époque life by fellow painters Alfred Stevens and James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot, Delort pays particular attention to the costuming of his subjects: the women wear the bright coloured dresses that were popular in late 19th century France, whilst their gentlemen escorts wear elegant black tie or military uniform. The garments are immaculately rendered, emphasising the meticulous attention to detail which Delort is known for.

The dynamism of the chattering figures is complemented by their tranquil environment. The scenic forest of Fontainebleau was a favourite weekend getaway for Parisians, and Delort has rendered the greenery with a delicate touch, with the fallen leaves indicating the beginnings of the changing season. The glimpse of a chateau in the left corner, as well as the impressively detailed chairs and other furniture, remind the viewer of the bourgeoise setting.

The canvas is signed 'C. Delort' in the lower right, and an inscribed title plaque adorns the base of the carved giltwood frame.

Of superb quality, this charming scene is a glimpse into the glamour of Belle Époque life.

Canvas: Height 90cm, width 130cm
Frame: Height 109cm, width 148cm, depth 7cm



- Anon. sale, New York, 18 October 1944.
- With Richard Green, London.
- Sold at Christie's, New York, 6 May 1999, lot 55 ($96,000)
- With MacConnal-Mason & Son, Ltd., London.


Artist / Maker
By Delort, Charles Édouard (French, 1841-1895)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Belle Époque
Giltwood, Oil on Canvas


109 cm / 42.9 inches
148 cm / 58.3 inches
7 cm / 2.8 inches


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