Lot 34
  • 34

Eugen von Blaas

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Eugen von Blaas
  • Flirtation
  • signed Eugene de Blaas. and dated 1894 (lower right) 
  • oil on canvas
  • 41 1/2 by 52 in.
  • 105.4 by 132.1 cm


Private Collection, Mexico
Thence by descent


Thomas Wassibauer, Eugen von Blaas, Das Werk, Hildesheim, 2005, p. 131, no. 117, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Celebrated for his evocative paintings of the pleasures and pastimes of Venetian youth, Eugen von Blaas’ multi-figural compositions set in secluded courtyards appeared in the artist’s oeuvre from the 1880s. Flirtation is notable in its large scale, a relatively rare choice for his genre scenes, and until recently has been known only from a black and white photograph. Long untraced, this work has remained in a Mexican private collection for decades. Flirtation depicts three young women gathered around a vera da pozzo, the stone structure that protects the opening of a well. The carefully observed coat of arms represents the wealthy Venetian family who donated the well to the city, as was the case with many others dotted around numerous courtyards and public spaces. The women bring copper pots to gather drinking water and at the same time draw the attention of a flirtatious, barefoot suitor, who approaches with flower in hand.

The figures in this expansive composition, with their brightly colored costumes, are staged as if in an opera. The old city stands as a fitting backdrop, resolute and unchanging, while it's lively people come and go down it's centuries-old cobblestone streets, through it's doorways and to it's hidden courtyards. As the artist's biographer describes, “[von Blaas] contrasted the decaying grandeur of old Venetian stone with fresh flowers and fruit… his 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” (Wassibauer, p. 19).