Eugène Delfosse (French/Belgian, 1825 – 1865), Caught Flirting, oil on canvas, signed and dated 1859 – lower right, 29″ x 23.5″
Eugène Delfosse exhibited in Belgium and from 1849 to 1861 at the Royal Academy in London. His genre paintings are usually set in the Middle Ages and are reminiscent of the canvases of Henry Leys in their mannerism and stylistic affectation.
‘Interior with Armed Men and a Family Group’ is typical of the artist’s early canvases in its depiction of a nationalistic subject, painted in an affected style inspired by 16th and 17th century Flemish genre works. The theme of national identity was important to the Romantic Movement and was particularly relevant in the newly independent Belgium. By the 1840s, a number of painters including Delfosse, Edouard De Bièfve (1808-1882) and Henri Leys (1815-1869), to whom Delfosse’s paintings have been compared, were focusing on themes from Belgian history. Additionally, Delfosse spent time in Paris, where he was influenced by the Romanticism of contemporary French artists such as Paul Delaroche (1797-1854) and Eugène Delacroix (1798-1763).
Unlike many Romantic painters of this period, Delfosse did not depict identifiable events in history, although the inclusion of the armed soldiers may indicate that it is set during one of the many conflicts that took place in Flanders during the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the Thirty Years War (1568-1648). Regardless, the staged quality of the composition and the pathos of the scene make it a typical example of mid-nineteenth century Belgian Romanticism.