Lot 304
  • 304

Eugen von Blaas

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Eugen von Blaas
  • conversation on the terrace, venice
  • signed and dated Eug. de Blaas / 1909. lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 90.5 by 104.5cm., 35½ by 41¼in.


Mr. Aickelin, Venice
Galerie Heinemann, Munich
Dr. Martin Mayer, Frankfurt (acquired from the above)
Acquired by the present owner in Germany circa 1975


This condition report has been provided by Hamish Dewar, Hamish Dewar Ltd. Fine Art Conservation, 14 Masons Yard, Duke Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6BU. Structural Condition The artist's canvas is unlined and consequently there are almost inevitably visible stretcher-bar lines and some unevenness around the framing edges. There is also raised craquelure in the sky in the upper left of the composition. It is, however, very encouraging to find the canvas in its unlined state and the overall structural condition is still stable. Paint Surface The paint surface clearly has a discoloured varnish layer and should respond extremely well to cleaning and revarnishing. I would be very confident of a considerable colour change and a great improvement in the overall appearance. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows a few scattered retouchings, all of which are clearly excessive and if removed could be considerably reduced with more careful retouching. The most significant of these are: 1) an area of thin glazing in the sky between the roofs, 2) along the upper horizontal framing edge, 3) several areas in the paving in the foreground, and 4) retouching on the blue pigment of the apron of the girl on the left of the composition. Summary The painting is therefore in good condition and the benefits of cleaning and revarnishing would be not only a considerable colour change but also a reduction in the amount of retouching.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Eugen von Blaas' exceptional feel for genre is evident in Conversation on the Terrace, awash with a coquettish energy. The women crowd a narrow space, defined by individual facial expressions and gestures, as well as a variety of patterns and textures in their colourful and detailed costume. The figures' flesh-tones are of a naturalistic yet delicate luminosity that reveal the influence of Eugen von Blaas' father, the portraitist Carl von Blaas, in addition to the artist's study of the techniques of Titian. Layer upon layer of fine glazes were built up to create the rich, blushing skin-tones of the Italian beauties, set off by the exoticism of the vibrant dresses.

Von Blaas' marriage to a wealthy Italian woman would give him the exposure and means that would earn him the sobriquet 'painter of Venetian beauties.' The decayed majesty of Venetian columns and stone contrasts with the liveliness of the industriously gossiping and sewing women, and the verdant background of rich grass and blossoming trees. Von Blaas' young people 'live their lives within the old walls of a still-important city, and become links in an apparently endless chain of generations who carry on the Venetian traditions and way of life' (Thomas Wassibauer, Eugen von Blaas, Hildesheim, 2005, p. 19).

Throughout his life, von Blaas used a refined and detailed method to construct lively genre scenes celebrating the joie de vivre within a majestic historical framework. Conversation on the Terrace is a quintessential example of the delicacy, charm and vivacity of von Blaas' spirited, salt-of-the-earth women, insouciantly completing everyday tasks with the worn grandeur of Venice as an exotic backdrop.