Venetian Water-Carrier

Venetian Water-Carrier, 1890
Eugene von Blaas (1843-1932)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 00014
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Venetian Water-Carrier

This painting is an exceptional example of the artist’s work. Every detail, from the girl’s glowing skin, the lace trim of her under-dress and the heavy folds of the magenta and yellow fabric of her skirt, to the copper and earthenware water vessels she carries, and the crumbling stucco of the brick wall behind her, are rendered exquisitely. She is looking over her shoulder somewhat flirtatiously at an unseen admirer – the viewer of the painting, a technique often employed by von Blaas.

Venice had been an essential stop on the Grand Tour since the 1700s. Past visitors had returned home with views and portraits, but the late 1880s tourists wanted more. The cheeky, flirtatious girls painted by von Blaas proved to be very popular with European buyers. The model in the picture must have been a favourite with the painter as she appears frequently in his works of the late 1880s and early 1890s.

Eugene von Blass (1834-1931) specialised in painting Venetian ‘beauties’ in contemporary genre settings. His particular interest was the depiction of beautiful Italian women at work such as washerwomen, fruit and flower vendors and, as in this case, water-carriers, although he also painted carnival scenes and portraits.

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