• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 3066

    Old Masters & 19th Century Art - including Dutch Impressionism

    15 - 16 November 2016, Amsterdam

  • Lot 227

    Eugen von Blaas (Albano Laziale 1843-1931 Venice)

    The flirtation

    Price Realised  


    Eugen von Blaas (Albano Laziale 1843-1931 Venice)
    The flirtation
    signed 'E. von Blaas' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    100 x 62 cm.

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    Von Blaas trained at the Academy of Venice where his father Karl was an instructor. Venice proved to be an important facet in Von Blaas’ work, as Venice remained relatively unaffected by the fast-paced changed brought by the Industrial Revolution and had a great wealth in its architectural and artistic inheritance. This time capsule allowed Von Blaas to paint idyllic common folk without being consumed by a sense of melancholic nostalgia and made Venice the ideal environment for his work. He was most loved for his images of Venetian women, often capturing them with well placed, richly described evocations of their daily, often domestic occupations. These genre scenes remained throughout Von Blaas’ oeuvre, for which he revealed a ready aptitude in his early work. His women are striking in their youth and unadorned beauty and they are depicted with a high degree of finish which demonstrates the artist's unique abilities as both a draughtsman and a painter. The realism in the work of Von Blaas is almost photographic and it is clearly the artist's intent to show these women going about their daily routines, oblivious of their own beauty and that of their surroundings. The artist’s paintings also reflect the tenderness and affinity he felt for the people who inspired his work, which might explain why he later refines his skills as a portrait painter.

    In the present work, a playfully romantic interlude unfolds as a young man pulls himself up, over a brick wall, whilst leaning in for a kiss. Meanwhile, his paramour’s eyes are cast towards the viewer, with a playful smile quietly acknowledging his advances. Through the use of a distinctly Italianate setting, and the detailed, beautifully coloured costumes of his figures, Von Blaas is able to create a rich contextual setting for the viewer. Yet, whilst these details, coupled with the artist's tight figural composition, set the scene, it is the postures, lively gestures, facial expressions and the delicate emotive language which fully animate the world that Von Blaas has created. One can almost hear the conversation of the two lovers. This vibrant depiction allows the viewer to formulate and project his own narrative onto this simple exchange, frozen in time.

    The pair is placed against the crumbling masonry of an old brick wall, a favourite pictorial motif of the artist.  As Thomas Wassibaur explains, 'Von Blaas’ young people live their lives within the old walls of a still-important city, and became links in an apparently endless chain of generations who carry on the Venetian traditions and way of life' (see:Thomas Wassibaur, Eugen von Blaas 1843-1931, Das Werk Catalogue raisonné, Hildesheim, 2005, p. 19). The artist’s lively and detailed scenes proved incredibly popular with late nineteenth century tourists to Venice, both Europeans and Americans (many of them among the most prominent, wealthy industrialists and entrepreneurs of the era) who found these vibrant compositions the perfect souvenir.


    with Galerie Heinemann, Munich.
    with Kunsthandel Francois Buffa & Fils, Amsterdam.
    In the family of the present owner since circa 1935.