The Gilded Age Revisited: Property from a Distinguished American Collection

The Gilded Age Revisited: Property from a Distinguished American Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 780. Eugen von Blaas | A MAIDEN WITH A BASKET OF ROSES.


Auction Closed

February 2, 06:45 PM GMT


200,000 - 300,000 USD

Lot Details


Eugen von Blaas

1843 - 1931



signed Eugen von Blaas and dated 1900 (lower left)

oil on panel

50 1/2 by 24 3/4 in.

128.3 by 62.9 cm

Born in Albano, Italy to the painter Carl von Blaas (1815-1894), Eugen von Blaas was encouraged to pursue his artistic talents from a young age. Von Blaas studied in Venice, where he learned to copy models and casts of classical sculpture, occasionally returning to Austria to help his father paint frescoes for the Arsenal in Vienna. He eventually settled in Venice permanently after his marriage to Paola Prina, whose fortune allowed the couple to have a lively social life and a palazzo on the Zattere. Most celebrated for being a painter of Venetian beauties, von Blaas brought his beloved Venice to life by staging dynamic, colorful compositions against the backdrop of the historic city. As the artist's biographer Thomas Wassibauer 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). The artist spared no detail in his paintings, and his technical abilities are evident in his rendering of sumptuous fabrics and fresh flowers. To some degree his compositions are fantasies: von Blaas constructed a world that is frozen in time. His figures, who are dressed in timeless, traditional costume, gossip, flirt, explore and experience what Wassibauer calls “harmless joie de vivre,” all the while blissfully unaware that Venice will continue to crumble and age and modern nineteenth-century society will continue to propel ever forward (Wassibauer, p. 20)

By the 1880s, von Blaas had begun to enlarge his canvases and incorporate more complex details into his compositions, culminating in large-scale vertical paintings, such as the present lot, by the turn of the century. A Maiden with a Basket of Roses, dated 1900, is an impressive panel and an exceptional example of one of von Blaas’ trademark figures. The model is posed as if the viewer has stumbled upon this flower-seller just as she is about to disappear down one of old Venice’s many hidden passageways. Her expression is at once charmingly mischievous and mysterious; she is not just a static model but one who tells a story. Of the artist’s young Venetians, Wassibauer writes, “[von Blaas’] portraits… are structured in a way which is both narrative and playful: his Venetian women have a seductive or melancholy look, or may be bold and challenging” (Wassibauer p. 17).