Saturday, 13 November 2010

Venus by the sea: In the Water by Eugene de Blaas

In the Water (1914)

Here is a nice one-off nude by Italian-born, Austrian painter Eugene de Blaas (1843-1932).  Blaas was born in Albano, near Rome, but spent much of his life in Venice where his father, who was also his original art tutor, was a professor at the Venice Academy.  Tourists visiting Venice wanted pictures of Venetian life and Blaas soon found a niche supplying pictures of gondoliers, fishermen and, above all, Venetian beauties in traditional costume.  His work was so popular in England two of the top art dealers of the time battled it out to represent him.

The Water Carrier (1908)

Sadly, this elegant nude, treading carefully in the shallows as a small shoal of fish darts past her legs, seems to be the only one that he did.  In all his other paintings, despite often displaying a smouldering Italian sensuality, his girls are clothed.  A lost opportunity, but perhaps for Blaas, a very commercial artist, sex didn't sell at the beginning of the last century.

 Young Italian Beauty

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