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    Sale 7743

    Old Masters & 19th Century Art Evening Sale

    7 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 58

    Eugen von Blaas (Albano Laziale 1843-1931 Venice)

    Venetian ladies on a balcony

    Price Realised  


    Eugen von Blaas (Albano Laziale 1843-1931 Venice)
    Venetian ladies on a balcony
    signed and dated 'Eugenio Blaas. 1875' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    49½ x 40 in. (126 x 102 cm.)

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    The present work is one of Eugen von Blaas' most accomplished masterpieces, bringing together his understanding of texture, composition and figural painting, which marked him as one of the leading genre painters of his time. As T. Wassibauer writes of the painting: 'With his technique increasing in perfection he started to handle complicated themes, as in the Venetian Balcony Scene of 1875: five girls are crowded into a very narrow space, each characterised by her own expression. Different textiles add emphasis to the composition rustling silks and rich brocades form a contrast to the velvet curtain and the carpet, intoxicating in their colours and sensuousness. With this picture Eugen von Blaas had reached the peak of his thematic development.' (T. Wassibauer, op. cit., p. 16).

    Eugen von Blaas enjoyed a sheltered childhood divided between the cities of Vienna and Venice. He took lessons in painting from an early age from his father Carl, a wealthy and highly successful artist, and between 1860 and 1872, when he could take breaks from his studies in Venice, he assisted his father with his commissions to paint the Arsenal frescoes in Vienna. His cosmopolitan upbringing gave him a good knowledge of French and English, and he travelled to both France and England before settling in Venice in 1871.

    Von Blaas clearly absorbed contemporary influences from the many places he visited, as his paintings combine facets of the most popular genre and academic painters of his day. His more loosely painted depictions of young children and street urchins recall the work of the Paris-trained Russian painter, Alexej Harlamoff, while his later works, in which he turned more to more glamorous belle époque subjects, recall the work of the Belgian Alfred Stevens. His Venetian training, meanwhile, shines through in his use of a bright palette that recalls the colours of Giambattista Tiepolo or his contemporary, Mosè Bianchi.

    The theme of young ladies on the balcony was one to which von Blaas often turned, alternating between figures in contemporary and historical dress. Like most of his paintings, the present work has a clear narrative. Each girl is looking in a slightly different direction, no doubt attracted to different parts of a procession unfolding below. The importance of the occasion is emphasised by the sumptuous clothing and the Oriental carpet hanging over the balustrade, which was 'a typical practice on major feast-days in Austria as a way of displaying both the wealth of the household and the joy of participating in the celebrations' (T. Wassibauer, op. cit, p. 18).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Anonymous sale; Dorotheum, Vienna, 20 March 1973.
    Anonymous sale; Berlinghof Kunstauktionshaus, Heidelberg, 9 May 1980, when acquired by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    T. Wassibauer, Eugen von Blaas - Das Werk, Hildesheim, 2005, pp. 16, 42, 119, no. 18, pl. VII as 'Venetian Balcony Scene'.