Henri Liénard de Saint-Délis was the son of a Dragoons officer who died young. The family went to live in Le Havre in 1885. At his lycée, Henri Saint-Délis was in the same class as Othon Friesz and they became life-long friends. Both Friesz and he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre, where they were pupils of Charles Lullier, a former pupil of Ingres, and it was there they met Jongkind. He also met Dufy, Braque, Lecourt and Copieux. When Dufy left for Paris, Henri de Saint-Délis followed him, but he stayed there only a year, attending Jean Paul Laurens's studio in 1900, visiting the museums and discovering the Impressionists. He returned to Le Havre and lived a cheerful life with his companions until, in 1905, he contracted tuberculosis and had to spend 12 years in a Swiss sanatorium. His brother René used to visit him and bring back his paintings of the mountains to show to his old studio colleagues. Most of his Swiss output was destroyed during a bombardment of Le Havre in 1944. When he returned to Normandy in about 1920 he moved from Le Havre to Honfleur. It is a pity his Swiss paintings were almost entirely destroyed; from what remains, it seems this period was influenced by Fauvism, maybe as a result of his friendship with Friesz. The colour is lively and the composition organised in broad arabesques. He painted the main body of his work in Honfleur - a few portraits and still-lifes, but above all landscapes depicting the coast, the countryside and the port. He also produced a watercolour every day. His Honfleur paintings are alert and fresh, their drawing deliberately sketchy. We could say that Saint-Délis was to Honfleur what Mathieu Verdilhan was to the coast of Marseilles.
He seems to have exhibited regularly at the Salon des Indépendants, Paris, from 1905. Two solo shows of his work were held during his lifetime - in Paris in 1945, and in Rouen in 1948. Retrospectives were held in 1950 at the École des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre, in 1953 at the Hôtel de Ville, Honfleur, in 1954 in Paris, in 1955 in London, in 1961 in Paris, in 1963 in Paris, Honfleur and Le Havre and in 1965 and 1971 in Honfleur.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Rouen: Port of Honfleur