Showing posts with label Grand Tour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grand Tour. 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 October 2017

Giovanni Battista Piranesi – artist

Genius who put 18th century Rome on the map

Pietro Labruzzi's portrait of Piranesi, thought to have been painted a year after his death
Pietro Labruzzi's portrait of Piranesi, thought
to have been painted a year after his death
Draftsman, printmaker and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi was born on this day in 1720 in Mogliano Veneto near Treviso in the Veneto.

He became famous for his large prints depicting the buildings of Rome, which stimulated interest in Rome and inspired the neoclassical movement in art in the 18th century.

Piranesi went to Rome to work as a draftsman for the Venetian ambassador when he was 20. There he studied with some of the leading printmakers of the day.

It was during this period that he developed his own, original etching technique, producing rich textures and bold contrasts of light and shadow by means of intricate, repeated bitings of the copperplate.

Among his finest early prints are the Prisons - Carceri - imaginary scenes depicting ancient Roman ruins, which are converted into fantastic dungeons filled with scaffolding and instruments of torture.

Piranesi later opened a workshop in Via del Corso and created the series of vedute - views - of Rome that established his fame.

Piranesi's etching of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome
Piranesi's etching of the Castel
 Sant'Angelo in Rome
Among his best mature prints are the series Roman Antiquities (Le antichita romane), Views of Rome (Vedute di Roma) and views of the Greek temples at Paestum.

His accuracy, his technical mastery and his depiction of the dramatic and romantic nature of the structures has made these prints the most original and impressive representations to be found in western art.

He was able to  replicate faithfully the actual remains, provide the missing parts and introduce groups of vases, altars and tombs that were absent in reality.

Many of his prints of Rome were collected by gentleman visiting the city as part of the Grand Tour. His precise observational skills allow people today to experience the atmosphere of Rome as it was in the 18th century, as many of the monuments and decorative details of the buildings he depicted have since disappeared, sometimes having been stolen.

Piranesi was also commissioned to restore the church of Santa Maria del Priorato in the Villa of the Knights of Malta on Rome’s Aventine Hill. He used ancient architectural elements in marble and stone for the façade of the church.

After his death in 1778, he was buried in a tomb inside Santa Priorato, the church he had helped to restore.

The Piazza Caduti in Mogliano Veneto
The Piazza Caduti in Mogliano Veneto
Travel tip:

Mogliano Veneto, where Piranesi was born, is a town in the province of Treviso, about halfway between Mestre and Treviso. It is particularly known for its medieval festival that takes place in the town every year in September. It is a stop on the Venice to Udine railway line and has regular services to Venice, Treviso, Udine and Trieste.

The church of Santa Maria del Priorato on Rome's Aventine Hill
The church of Santa Maria del Priorato on
Rome's Aventine Hill
Travel tip:

The church of Santa Maria del Priorato, where Piranesi is buried, is on the Aventine Hill, the most southern of Rome’s seven hills, which is now an elegant residential part of Rome. The original church was built in 939 but between 1764 and 1766 it was renovated by Piranesi and the Piazza dei Cavaliere di Malta was built in front of the church according to his design. The decorative façade of the church was designed by Piranesi to include emblems and references to the military and naval associations of the Knights of Malta. The way in which they are represented indicates Piranesi’s fascination with Rome’s ancient past.