Delmonte, (Simeon) Koert (1913–82), portrait and landscape painter, was born 15 April 1913 in van Mierlestraat, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, eldest of three children of Solomon Delmonte, banker, and his wife Nanetha, daughter of Simon Speyer, diamond merchant. His younger brother died in infancy and his sister Evelyn was seven years his junior. The family were wealthy and lived in van Mierlestraat, a fashionable area in Amsterdam. He attended the synagogue with his father, a Sephardic Jew; his mother, an Askenazi Jew, went to the synagogue with her parents. Marriage between the two traditions was unusual. His father gambled his family inheritance and lost everything, including his job in the bank and his house. Delmonte was sent to a Jewish boarding school in Germany for a few months (1920). His parents finally divorced and both he and his sister were boarded with separate families, while his mother worked in her sister's dressmaking business as a cutter. He was able, however, to maintain regular contact with his parents, but rarely saw his sister. Eventually relatives on his father's side of the family took him into their care (1925) and he could finish his education. They were kind and supportive and he remembered them with affection. They later died in concentration camps during the second world war.
His first job was with a chemical company (c.1931) where he worked as a clerk. He began to take evening classes in painting at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, and Harry Koolen, a portrait painter, invited him to work in his studio in Maastricht (1935). From him he learned new technical skills; he could also attend the local art college. An excellent draughtsman, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Académie des Beaux Art in Brussels under the tuition of Alfred Bastien (d. 1947). His first one-man show was in Amsterdam, in the Gallery de Ronde Brug (1936), and as a member of the Onafhankelijken (‘Independents’) he exhibited in their shows. He married (17 December 1936) Térèse Jochimsthal, musician; they had two daughters, Marijke (b. 1938) and Saskia (b. 1942). With the threat of war looming, his mother and sister moved to England (1939), and when the Germans invaded the Netherlands (1940) he went with his family to Laren, North Holland. The children were sent into hiding while he worked for the underground, making false identity and ration cards. After the war he was awarded the Gerrit van der Veen Penning medal for this work. His father, who refused to go into hiding, died in the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland, and many members of his parents' families suffered a similar fate. These events took their toll on the marriage, which ended in divorce (1946), and his wife gained custody of the children. Delmonte immersed himself in his work and travelled in Italy, Spain, and Switzerland making drawings and painting. Unsettled, he married Cornelia Maria Van Ree, a singer, but the marriage did not last (1947–8). He lived in Laren and became a member of the Confederation of Dutch Artists. He visited his mother in England and in London; his painting of St Paul's cathedral was exhibited in a group show at the Wildenstein Gallery, New Bond St. (1950). The critics noted his use of bright continental colours and foresaw a promising future for him. The Rijksmuseum acquired a drawing he made of the cathedral.
During this period he was making regular trips to Dublin as it was more relaxed than London, and he could paint and draw unhindered. His drawings provide an informal record of Dublin and were shown in an exhibition of contemporary painters (1950) in the Wildenstein Gallery. He exhibited for the first time with the RHA (1952), with an address at the United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam St. London Transport bought several of his paintings for posters. The Home Office in London did not extend his residence permit because he could not provide evidence of a steady income, so he had to make plans to settle elsewhere. He met Niesje Maas, a Dutch nurse working in London, when she was on holiday in Dublin. She had two young children from a previous relationship. They married (1953) and moved to Dublin with the children and their baby, Sebastian (1954). At a time when many Irish artists and writers were leaving the country, feeling it was insular and oppressive, a number of Dutch artists and designers were arriving in Ireland, believing that it offered fresh opportunities and an inspiring landscape. Delmonte painted a portrait of Eoin O'Mahony (qv), which was praised for its intuitive insight into character, and he exhibited again at the Wildenstein in London (1955). He was friendly with Lennox Robinson (qv), who had admired his work in the United Arts Club and who encouraged him to do more drawing. He held a one-man show at the Little Theatre, Brown Thomas, Grafton St. (1956) and the critics admired his bright palette and particularly praised his drawings of the city. Sales were slow and it was hard to make ends meet, but Niesje had his drawings made into line-blocks and sold as stationery, and some were reproduced in British and Irish newspapers. They moved to a larger flat at 17 Pembroke Road, Dublin (1957), and he bought a moped, which meant he could travel and paint scenes of the countryside. Delmonte painted a portrait of the Rev. de Pauley (1893–1968), dean of St Patrick's cathedral, who, after several conversations on religion and philosophy, agreed to baptise him. He had long abandoned the Jewish religion but his past still weighed heavily on him. His mother died (1958) and he and his wife could buy a Georgian house at 10 Trafalgar Terrace, Monkstown (1959). It had a mews, which served as an ideal studio, where he gave art-appreciation and painting classes and worked towards an exhibition in the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery, Dublin (1961). The Dutch ambassador, Piet Kasteel, opened the exhibition. He also participated in a show of the work of nine Dutch artists at the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin (1967) and the same year with the RHA, entering views of Cobh and Drogheda. He took up a position as part-time lecturer in the College of Marketing and Design, Parnell Square, Dublin (1970).
Delmonte was diagnosed with lympholeucaemia (1974) and despite the severe treatment continued to put tremendous energy into his work and his teaching. A group of people gathered in his studio for meditation and philosophical discussion, and eventually the ‘Dublin School of Philosophy’ was formed. He continued to exhibit regularly, and entered an exhibition of the work of Dutch artists living in Ireland, held at the Bank of Ireland, Baggot St., Dublin (1975) and a retrospective exhibition at Lad Lane Gallery, off Baggot St. (1979). He now lived with his wife in Ballylusk, Ashford, Co. Wicklow, and, although his health was deteriorating, still made the train journey to Dublin for his teaching. He underwent more treatment (1981) but was sent home from hospital in July and on 11 August 1982 died peacefully in his sleep. He is buried in Killesky cemetery, Nun's Cross, Ashford, Co. Wicklow. Most of his paintings and drawings are in the possession of his family and in private collections; examples can be seen at the United Arts Club, Dublin, and in the Prentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.