Charles Delort studied at the naval college in Lorient before deciding to become a painter. He was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1864 and studied with Gleyre and Gerome. He made his debut at the Paris Salon the same year, and was awarded a second-class medal in 1882. He traveled to Egypt with Gerome and returned to France via the Maghreb, where he found inspiration for large-scale compositions on Orientalist themes, which met with considerable success. As a result, he worked extremely intensely, and had a stroke that left his right hand paralysed. He learnt to paint with his left hand until complete paralysis overtook him.
For a period of his life, Delort painted eighteenth-century pastiches and his paintings became very popular. However, he was known mainly for his African subjects. As an illustrator, he worked on the 'Figaro Illustre' and the journal 'Les Lettres et les Arts', and produced drawings for the works of Froissart, Walter Scott, Xavier de Maistre, Theophile Gauthier and Edmond About.