Austrian painter Eugen von Blaas’ unparalleled skill for genre painting is on display in this exceptional oil entitled The Water Carrier. The work captures a young Venetian woman during the course of her chores as she carries a filled water pail. Layer upon layer of fine glazes were applied to create the rich, blushing skin-tone of the Italian beauty, while her vibrant clothing lends an exoticism to the scene. She is the quintessential example of von Blaas’ preferred subject – spirited, salt-of-the-earth women who insouciantly engage in everyday tasks with the worn grandeur of the Italian countryside as their backdrop.
Throughout his life, von Blaas followed a refined and detailed method of constructing lively genre scenes within a grand historical framework. His women are striking in their youth and unadorned beauty, feeling as though they have stepped through the annals of time. Similarly, his favorite setting would prove to be Venice, for it provided the artist with a timeless environment, remaining unaltered by the fast-paced changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Born to Austrian parents in Italy in 1843, von Blaas was raised in an artistic environment. His father, Karl Blaas, was a successful portrait and history painter as well as a sculptor, and his brother was a successful painter of military scenes. While the family had its roots in Austria, both von Blaas and his brother were born near Rome, and the family later moved to Venice when his father was appointed a professor at the Venice Academy of Fine Art. The young von Blaas soon after began to compose his famed Venetian scenes, as well as portraits and religious paintings for the Venetian elite.
At that time, Venice was under the control of Austria thanks to the 1814 Treaty of Venice, which granted the territories of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia to the Habsburg Emperor of Austria. Due to the dueling cultures in the region, von Blaas adopted the more Italianesque pseudonym Eugene de Blaas when dealing with his Italian clientele, reserving the name von Blaas for his Austrian patrons. His work was also sought after beyond the Italian and Austrian borders, and von Blaas exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, the Grafton Gallery and the New Gallery between 1875 and 1892.
Though he studied at the great academies in Rome, Vienna, and Paris, and traveled to Belgium and England, it was Venice that remained his greatest muse, and he soon established himself as the leading painter of the Venetian genre. Universally appealing thanks to their charming, coquettish subjects and highly polished technique, his works remains highly coveted.
Panel: 30 3/4″ high x 16 1/4″ wide
Frame: 43″ high x 28 3/4″ wide