Skip to main content

Eugene de Blaas

Blaas Eugene de The Serenade 1910 Oil On Canvas
The Serenade 1910

Eugene de Blaas was born on July 24, 1843 to Austrian parents in Albano, near Rome. He learned to paint from his father, Karl Von Blaas who then moved the family to Venice where Eugene stayed for most of his career. Blaas has a style known for vivid colors, theatrical body language, graceful figures, intricate costumes, and the contrast of fishing community against the rustic walls of Venice. I have never seen his work in person yet, unfortunately, and some might find his art overly sentimental or dated but I think he deserves attention as a unique artist that was able to merge his academic art training with the world around him not as a realist per se, but a storyteller and creator of mood. I suspect he inspired many illustrators of the 1940s and 50s with his particular use of body language and facial expression to create a context that captures our attention.

In The Serenade we see four women respond individually to the guitar of this barefoot fisherman. There are some complex color arrangements here, and the type of fabric and clothing each woman is wearing seems to accurately reflect her personality type. Notice the differences between the first two women, and how the first is quite straight laced while the other looks up at the fisherman resting her hand close to his knee. Compare this to the seated women knitting the net, and how the first is facing away from the fisherman while the redhead is moved by the romantic sounds of his guitar...the net itself seems to have a sexual connotation. At any rate, the intricate balance of textures and colors is a feast for the eyes here, and Blaas tells a simple story better than a camera or film ever could.

The Flirtation,1904

Blaas must have been a fan of the opera, and the compositions he creates seem musical themselves. A keen observer of body language, we can clearly see the persistence of the man talking to the pretty young brunette, who sheepishly stretches her arms out, legs crossed, yet maintains a smile on her face. Her redhead friend is entertained by this situation and studies her reaction carefully.On the ground a basket of fruit symbolizes her temptation. Blaas may have been guilty of the same motifs in his work, namely the rustic walls and similar cast of characters, but there is a timeless quality to his art that virtually anyone can relate to, much like the opera of his day. His hand gestures and attention to feet positioning should be noted for their innate accuracy and storytelling ability.

Blaas Eugen von The Eavesdropper
The Eavesdropper,ca. late 1800's

Blaas attempts to create a sense of intrigue within a framework of curiosity and gossip. Note again his hand and feet positioning. One foot points to the action happening outside the door while her other foot points right at us, the viewer. One hand leans against the door while the other is behind her, ready to pull back at a moment's notice. Blaas describes women in a way that we can all relate to, and he never yields to blatant sexuality or nudity— his audience may have been more family-oriented, preferring the everyday to the melodrama of Biblical or Mythological studies that were already done for centuries. Blaas is a painter for the people.

Blaas Eugen von A Helping Hand 1884 Oil On Panel
A Helping Hand, 1884

Note the colors in this piece. The mother appears wearing the very flag of Italy as she sews her son's sleeve, while the redhead is ready to give scraps of food to the cat. Texture is Blaas' genius. Look at the shadows of the pots on the walls. A very simple theme with strong, tender women.

In the Water, 1914

This could possibly be the most innocent nude of a woman ever painted. Although her beauty is unmistakable her immediate task is only to reach the shore without stepping on sharp rocks. The brushwork here, ironically, is quite Impressionistic, especially in the highlights. The subtle pink brushstrokes of her thighs, the warm shadows on her face, and the purple reflection of her ankles in the water...this work manages to be feminine in the purest sense of the word.

Blaas Eugen Von An Interesting Story
An Interesting Story,ca. 1900s

An animated expression such as this, with the appropriate hand gestures describe a lot of Italian women, both of that era and today. What is curious about this painting is the lack of supporting cast...who is she looking at? By focusing on her as a subject the painting has more immediacy and character, like a soliloquy or monologue of a play or opera. Maybe the story is up to the viewer's imagination sometimes.


Popular posts from this blog

More Old Master Drawings

There is nothing in all the world more beautiful or significant of the laws of the universe than the nude human body. Robert Henri Charles Louis Müller , A Standing Female Nude Leaning Against an Arch, ca.1864 Once again I decided to talk about some Old Master drawings and delve into the thinking behind how these drawings may have been created and the knowledge of the artist. In the above drawing by Müller, done in sanguine with white chalk highlights, the figure is drawn from a low view-point, with her body twisting toward her left side while resting on one knee. Note how Müller alternates the bent right leg with the bent left arm to create dynamic contrast. The right arm is also foreshortened and partially in shadow. Expressing power and femininity, this is a study that is Renaissance in spirit, even Mannerist, revealing the female nude as sculptural yet always graceful. Anton Raphael Mengs , Seated male nude viewed from the back, 1755 One of several Academic nu


Nymphs and Satyr, 1873 If there is one artist today that hardly needs an introduction, it would be William-Adolphe Bouguereau , supreme giant of 19th century Academic art. Born on November 30, 1825 in La Rochelle on the southwest of France, his talent would define the era he lived in only to fall into obscurity for decades after his death in 1905 until as recent as the early 1980's, shockingly. Today he has the distinction of being lionized by the Art Renewal Center as one of the greatest artists of all time while at the other end of the spectrum vilified by modernists as artificially perfect and sentimental. In fact it is quite rare to see such polarization over an artist of a calibre like Bouguereau, whose bravura is difficult to equal yet at the same time thematically his work admittedly tends toward women and children, a subject matter that sold well and he had endless patience for. Over the vast array of his oeuvre, some 820 paintings, I have tried to find some of his v

René-Antoine Houasse, French Classical Master

Dispute between Minerva and Neptune over the Naming of the City of Athens, 1689 Born in 1645 in Paris, René-Antoine Houasse was a French painter who worked in the Château de Versailles under his teacher, Charles Le Brun. Despite the initial impression of Classical formality, Houasse actually was quite musical and rhythmic in his compositions and had a very French palette. His figures are quite sculptural while retaining an elegance and grace regardless of gender. In the above Dispute between Minerva and Neptune over the Naming of the City of Athens , Houasse divides the painting with light to add a stark drama to an otherwise Classically formal composition. Taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses , the first king of Athens, King Cecrops was looking for a patron god or goddess for his beautiful city, and both Mineva and Neptune fought to win the favor of the gods. Neptune creates the sea by striking his mighty trident into the ground, and while impressive, the gods didn't much