Every Body Tells a Story

Eugen von Blaas, A Helping Hand

Eugen von Blaas, A Helping Hand

It’s a kitchen full of warm colours. There are copper pots, a wooden table, wooden chairs and beams, and a red brick floor.  The light falls across one wall and across the two women working, drawing our eyes with it to them and then to the youngest child and the shadows of the uneven floor she is sitting on.

A young girl stands at one woman’s knee, partly shadowed.  She has her hand to her mouth as she listens intently to what she is being told. The cat beside the little girl is watching intently too – maybe hoping for some food.  Behind her, a boy leans on the table, watching the other woman’s work. The toddler on the floor looks alert and curious, ready to join the group. The second woman stands behind the table, engrossed in what she is doing; behind her the fireplace/stove fades into the shadows

The painting seems to tell a story, and to be about a story being told.  You can see it in the figures, in the way they stand or sit, in the gestures they make.   It is a story of many hands, some working, and some waiting or wanting to be busy.  It is a story of women and children.  It is a story of a home, a kitchen, and the people who share their lives in it.

The artist is Eugen von Blaas.  He was born in Italy to Austrian parents, his father an artist and teacher who specialized in historical paintings and frescos.  Eugen studied and worked with his father, as well as traveling and studying in academies in Vienna, Venice and Paris. But it is the techniques he learned from his father that helped him to create the beautiful figures he became well-known for, with their delicate skin tones and beautifully rendered clothing.

His paintings of Venetian life, of fisherfolk and gondoliers and beautiful Venetian women provided the kind of glimpses of peoples’ way of life that interested well-off visitors.  Their beauty meant that they were much in demand, and he was able to live comfortably on the proceeds from his work.

Every figure had character, every body told a story.  Here we have a little story of family life…

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