Angèle Delasalle is one of those women artists – such as Louise Breslau – who are simply waiting for the world of art history to reassess their extraordinary gifts. Delasalle was born in Paris. She studied under Jean-Paul Laurens, Jean Benjamin-Constant, and Jules Lefebvre. As an oil painter Angèle Delasalle specialised in portraits, landscapes, and female nudes, exhibiting at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Artistes Français. She first came to attention with the painting Cain and Enoch’s Daughters at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1895, winning an Honorable mention. She was awarded a third-class medal in 1897 and a second-class medal in 1898, for her oil painting Retour de la chasse, now in the Musée de la Ville de Poitiers.
In 1899 a travel scholarship enabled her to spend time in Holland and England, where she absorbed the influences of Rembrandt and Turner. A 1902 exhibition at the Grafton Gallery drew from one critic the observation that her views of London were “more English than England herself.” Angèle Delasalle showed her strongly-composed and confident etchings at the Salon des Artistes Français, winning numerous prizes. Interestingly, in an age when women artists were traditionally praised for the feminine virtues of delicacy and subtlety, Angèle Delasalle was hailed by the influential Gazette des Beaux-Arts for “la virilité de son dessin.” Writing in the Magazine of Art in 1902, B. Dufernex notes that, “Her characteristic energy is such that her sex cannot be detected in her work; in fact, she was made the first and only woman member of the International Association of Painters under the impression that her pictures – signed simply A. Delasalle – were the work of a man.” Delasalle must have been one of the very first women artists to take the female nude as a central subject of her art. Her 1909 etching Étude de nu shows a naked model in a pose evidently taken from Manet’s Olympia. But where the model’s frank gaze back at the viewer seemed shocking and provocative in Manet, here it seems perfectly natural, even though Delasalle’s model is not, like Manet’s, coyly covering her pudendum with her hand. In 1926 Angèle Delasalle was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. Her date of death is uncertain. Benézit simply says it was post-1938; a number of other sources give 1939; the Département des Arts Graphiques of the Louvre gives it as around 1941; Joconde, the catalogue of the collections of French museums prepared by the French ministry of culture, gives the date firmly as 1941.