EUGENE FREDRICK JANSSON (1862-1915)
NORTHERN LIGHT MOVEMENT (c.1890-1915)
Badsump (Sweden, 1911)
Not for Sale
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated Eugene Jansson 1911 lower left
(118.90 inches wide)
(1.18 inches deep)
211.00cm framed width
210.00cm framed height
8.00cm framed depth
(83.07 inches framed width)
(82.68 inches framed height)
(3.15 inches framed depth)
Adrian Jansson, the artist's brother
Sebastian Engstrom, Stockholm, who inherited the estate
Moser and Klang, Stockholm
Private collection, Sweden
Wollin, N.G., Eugene Janssons Maleri, Stockholm 1920, catalogue number 131, illustrated page 124
Zachau, Inga, Eugene Jansson 1862-1915, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, 1998, catalogue number 72, illustrated page 47 and 80
Zachau, Inga, Eugene Jansson (1862-1915) Nocturnes suédois, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France, 1999, catalogue number 40, illustrated page 90
Stockholm, Konstnarsforbundet (League of Artists), 1912
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Per Hasselberg, Eugene Jansson, Herman Norrman and Ernest Josephson, 1918
Stockholm, Gallerie Moderne, 1929
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Eugene Janson 1862-1915, January-March 1998
Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Eugene Jansson (1862-1915) Nocturnes suédois, May-August 1999
Oslo, Munch Museet, Vitalismens år?, February-April 2006
Louisville, Kentucky, The Speed Art Museum, two year loan, June 2010 - November 2012
Groningen Museum, Holland, Nordic Art - the Modern Breakthrough, December 2012 - April 2013
Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, Nordic Art - the Modern Breakthrough, April 2013 - October 2013
Description / Expertise
Eugene Jansson was one of the most significant figures amongst the various artists who sought, in the last years of the nineteenth century, to create a style of painting which originated in and reflected the spirit of their native Scandinavia. This form of painting, known
in Sweden as National Romantic, has come to be seen as one of the vital strands in the gathering force of European modernism.
Jansson's career was dogged by almost unrelenting financial hardship and he was marked by a reclusive and misanthropic character. He was the son of a post office messenger and his early training s an artist, which however proved less than formative for his subsequent style of painting, was at the Slojdskolan school and, sporadically, as a private pupil of Edvard
Perseus. Jansson's artistic links and friendships with J.A.G. Acke and Karl Nordstrom derive from this period. During the mid 1880's Jansson met various of the Swedish painters who were then returning from France to paint the landscape of their native country. In 1885, these painters, known as the `Opponents', established the Konstnarsforbundet, a league or union of artists most of whom were radical in artistic and political terms and who were critical of the existing art institutions; Jansson was a committed member of this secessionist group.
From 1893 Jansson experimented with a new style of landscape and city view painting in which somber blues and blacks predominate and in which semi-abstraction never obscures the sense of the true character of a place; while other artists found spiritual solace in the northern wilderness Jansson expressed the bleak nocturnal loneliness of Stockholm and its suburb Sodermalm, where he lived from 1891. Jansson travelled abroad for the first time in 1900, to Paris; in 1901 he visited Germany and Italy. Jansson was largely isolated in terms of artistic influence, as he was in his personal life. He admired the works of Edvard Munch, which were exhibited and much discussed in Stockholm from circa 1892; he had the opportunity to study Munch's paintings in the collection of their mutual friend and patron Ernest Thiel.
In 1904, Jansson withdrew completely from artistic life in Stockholm; during the next three years he was little heard of and exhibited nothing. In 1907, he caused a great stir by revealing the first of his great series of male figurative subjects. Set in the gymnasia or bath-houses of the city these show nude or semi-nude young men performing acrobatics, training with weights of swimming in open-air baths. These paintings may be seen as Jansson's own response to the contemporary cult of physical athleticism and open-air nudity and the Nietzschean belief in nature as a source of primal energy for mankind. In Sweden this philosophy came to be known as Vitalism. Jansson allowed himself the role of lonely witness to these scenes; as with his landscapes and urban panoramas he observes and abstracts but in his later career, even despite his new proximity to his subject, one is given no sense of his participation. Tor Hedberg wrote of Jansson's art: His canvases are his experiences, the most important and profound - if we understand this, then his life, on the surface so wanting and monotonous, seems unusually exciting, passionate, almost dramatic.
Between 1907 and 1911 Jansson painted a series of large-scale views within the Swedish Navy's bath-house at Skeppsholmen. The artist was permitted to work in a temporary studio, and to study the plunging and bathing sailors in the pool as well as their nude and dressed comrades standing about or lounging in the sun at the pool-side. Of the three principal pictures which derived from the last and most original phase of Jansson's career the present is the conclusion, and consummation of his work as a painter of figurative subjects.
The monumentality and classicism of the earlier two (dated 1907 and 1908; now in the Thiel Gallery and property of the Swedish State respectively; illustrated N.G. Wollin EugeneJanssons Maleri pp. 120 and 121 respectively) as well as the compositional device of placing ranks of nude male figures in the foreground, have given way in the third to qualities of near abstraction. The perspective and proportion have been sacrificed and a great sense of movement and activity has been introduced. Jansson depicted the muscular bodies and turbulent water with calligraphic strokes of the brush, and with a superb richness of impasto and exuberance of colour. In Badsump Jansson abandoned the diffidence and detachment which he had displayed in the earlier two, and confronted the scene directly. He was no longer content with the static and essentially relaxed postures of the two earlier pictures, but sought rather to describe in painterly terms the frenzied turmoil of the bath-house and the dynamism of his athletic subjects.
Quoted in English by Roald Nasgaard in The Mystic North, Toronto, 1984, p. 82.