Showing posts with label Albano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albano. Show all posts

24 July 2018

Eugene de Blaas - painter

Austro-Italian famous for Venetian beauties

Beautiful young women and handsome suitors would often feature in De Blaas's work, as with On the Balcony (1877)
Beautiful young women and handsome suitors would often
feature in De Blaas's work, as with On the Balcony (1877)
Eugene de Blaas, a painter whose animated depictions of day-to-day life among ordinary Venetians were his most popular works, was born on this day in 1843 in Albano Laziale, just outside Rome.

Sometimes known as Eugenio Blaas, or Eugene von Blaas, he was of Austrian parentage. His father, Karl, also a painter, was a teacher at the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) in Rome. His brother, Julius, likewise born in Albano, was also a painter.

In 1856, the family moved to Venice after his father was offered a similar position at the Venetian Academy. At that time, Venice attracted artists from all over Europe and the young De Blaas grew up in a social circle that was largely populated by painters and poets.

Like his father, he became interested in the school known as Academic Classicism, a style which seeks to adhere to the principles of Romanticism and Neoclassicism.  He exhibited at the Venice Academy when he was only 17 years old.

The Water Carrier, celebrating the beauty of ordinary Venetian girls
The Water Carrier (1908), celebrating
 the beauty of ordinary Venetian girls
Religious painting was still in demand and one of his earliest important commissions, in 1863, was an altarpiece for the parish church of San Valentino di Merano.

Over time he produced paintings and watercolours of Venetian landscapes, catering for the needs of visitors who in the traditions of the Grand Tour wished to take home with them a pictorial souvenir of the beauty of the city.

But it was when, responding to the demand for pictures with human interest, that he began to introduce figures into his scenes that he began to develop the speciality with which he would be identified.

He painted gondoliers and fishermen, but eventually the dominant figures in most of his paintings were Venetian women, not only those from aristocratic, moneyed backgrounds but those he saw around him, going about their daily lives.

He had a keen eye for movement and expression and his scenes were lifelike down to precise detail. He often painted groups of women talking among themselves or being coy or flirtatious with male suitors and he would enhance the beauty of his female figures in a somewhat idealised way.  It is said that he used his wife, Paola Prina, whom he married in 1870, as the model for many of them.

Set against the pale, sun-bleached stone of authentic Venetian backgrounds, his paintings had a charm that appealed to buyers not only in Venice but in time in other parts of Europe and particularly in England, where many examples are exhibited in museums and art galleries.

De Blaas's self-portrait
De Blaas's self-portrait
Among his most famous works are On the Balcony (1877), Meeting in the Square (1886), The New Suitor (1888), The Flirtation (1889), The Water Carrier (1908), The Laundress (1912) and his only nude, In the Water (1914).

In addition to his portraits, De Blaas sometimes took on much bigger projects. He painted frescoes, for example, for the Vienna Arsenal.

Like his father, he spent some time teaching at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice, where he was an honorary professor from 1884 to 1890. He died in Venice in 1931 at the age of 87.

The remains of Porta Pretoria in Albano Laziale
The remains of Porta Pretoria in Albano Laziale
Travel tip:

Albano Laziale, often known simply as Albano, is the largest and commercially most important town of the Castelli Romani. With a population of almost 42,000 on the shores of Lake Albano a short distance from Castel Gandolfo, home of the papal summer palace, it has been a bishopric since the fifth century and is the historic principality of the Savelli family. The town has a cathedral basilica, dedicated to St Pancras, and other buildings of interest, including the 13th century Palazzo Savelli and the Palazzo Lercaro, also known as the Bishop’s Palace. The fortification of the old town of Albano was almost completely dismantled at the end of the 18th century for the enlargement of Via Appia, although sections still remain, such as the Porta Pretoria and the Porta San Paolo.

The former Ospedale degli Incurabili, on Fondamenta Zattere. is the home of the Venice Academy of Fine Arts
The former Ospedale degli Incurabili, on Fondamenta Zattere.
is the home of the Venice Academy of Fine Arts
Travel tip:

The Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia was first housed in 1750 in the Fonteghetto della Farina, a flour warehouse and market on the Grand Canal near Piazza San Marco. In 1807, it was moved to premises in the Palladian complex of the Scuola della Carità in the Dorsoduro quarter, which today houses the Gallerie dell’Accademia, where a number of Zuccarelli’s works can be found . The academy itself is now based at the Ospedale degli Incurabili, also in Dorsoduro, looking out over the Giudecca Canal.

More reading:

How Canaletto captured the splendid beauty of 18th century Venice

The engraver who spread Canaletto's fame beyond Italy

How the works of Tintoretto still adorn Venice

Also on this day:

1959: The birth of King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia

1921: The birth of tenor Giuseppe di Stefano


4 December 2016

Pope Adrian IV

The warlike conduct of England’s one and only pontiff

A cameo of Pope Adrian IV at the  Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris
A cameo of Pope Adrian IV at the
Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris
The only Englishman to have ever sat on the papal throne, Nicholas Breakspear, became Pope on this day in 1154 in Rome.

Breakspear, who was from Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire, had previously been created Cardinal Bishop of Albano by Pope Eugene III.

After his election as Pope, Breakspear took the name of Adrian IV (also known as Hadrian IV) and immediately set about dealing with the anti-papal faction in Rome.

After Frederick Barbarossa, Duke of Swabia, caught and hanged the leader of the faction, a man known as Arnold of Brescia, Adrian crowned Frederick as Holy Roman Emperor in 1155 to reward him.

He then formed an alliance with the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel Comnenus, against the Normans in Sicily.

Adrian raised mercenary troops in Campania to fight alongside the Byzantine forces and the alliance was immediately successful, with many cities giving in, either because of the threat of force or the promise of gold.

Frederick I as portrayed in a document in the Vatican library dated 1188
Frederick I as portrayed in a document in
the Vatican library dated 1188
But the Normans launched a counter attack by land and sea and many of the mercenaries deserted leaving the Byzantine troops outnumbered and forced to return home.

Adrian is also believed to have urged King Henry II of England to invade Ireland and bring the church under Roman control. It was claimed that Henry’s mother, the Empress Mathilda, protested about it and so the proposed invasion was postponed.

Then a letter Adrian sent to Frederick I was misinterpreted by one of the Emperor’s officials causing a breach between the two leaders. Adrian was just about to excommunicate the Holy Roman Emperor when he died at Anagni near Rome in 1159, reputedly from choking on a fly in his wine, but it has also been suggested he was possibly suffering from a quinsy, a complication of tonsilitis.

Travel tip:

The Diocese of Albano, where Adrian IV was Cardinal Bishop between 1149 and 1154, includes several towns in the Castelli Romano area of Lazio. It was founded in the fourth century after a Basilica had been built at Albano Laziale, 25 kilometres from Rome. Albano is now one of the most important municipalities of the Castelli Romani. It is close to Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope’s present day summer residence was built in the 17th century for  Pope Urban VIII.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Agnani
The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Agnani
Travel tip:

Agnani, where Adrian IV died, is an ancient town, southeast of Rome in an area of Italy known as the Ciociaria, which takes its name from the type of footwear, cioce, once worn by the local people. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Agnani became one of the favourite residences of the Popes, who considered it safer and healthier than Rome. One of the main sights is the Cathedral of Santa Maria, built in Romanesque style between 1071 and 1105.

More reading:

St Clare of Assisi - the count's daughter inspired by hearing Francis of Assisi preach

Pope John Paul II - first non-Italian pope for 455 years

The 33-day reign of the 'smiling pope'

Also on this day:

1798: Death of the scientist whose name added a new word to the language

(Picture credits: Agnani Cathedral by Livioandronico2013 via Wikimedia Commons)