Eugen Von Blaas, Artist

This is one of the paintings in our collection. It was made in Venezia (Venice), Italia nord-orientale (Northeast Italy), Italy in 1891.
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Object Detail

About the Work
'Curiosity' by Eugen von Blaas (1891) shows two young ladies perched on a ladder against a brick wall. As they peer over in obvious enjoyment the source of their entertainment remains a mystery and we are left in a state of endless suspense and curiosity.
- Jennifer Taylor Moore, exhibition label 'Observations from the Collection' 18/3/2023 - 30/6/2023

Eugen von Blaas, also known as de Blaas, was born at Albano, near Rome to Austrian parents. He came from an artistic family - he was taught by his father Karl de Blaas and his brother became Professor at the Academy in Vienna and Venice, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was in Venice that Eugen established himself as a leading painter of Venetian genre. Known for his highly polished technique, he depicted sentimental Venetian life. These were scenes which particularly appealed to the great number of English visitors to Venice. Artistic fashions of the late nineteenth century were more inclined towards the depiction of people, as opposed to an earlier popularity of landscape and panoramic scenes.
'Curiosity' therefore seems to be typical of von Blaas's style. Other works by the artist are titled 'The Love Letter', 'The Stolen Kiss' and 'The Suitor', which include detailed depictions of embroidered lace, auburn hair and coquettish glances ensuring a universal appeal.
'Curiosity' was reproduced as a poster promoting Pears' soap in 1892 and was more successful than most in reaching the masses. At the occasion of the bicentenary of Pears soap in 1990 'Curiosity' was declared 'one of the most popular of Pears' prints'. Perhaps it is our desire to share the unknown that ensures our curiosity about 'Curiosity' lingers.
- Sarjeant Gallery exhibition label, circa 1990's

The Firm A & F Pears (est.1807, London) joined Lever Brothers in 1914. 'Curiosity' was part of the private collection of William Hesketh Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme (also known as Lord Leverhulme). The painting was used as a promotional image for Pears Soap. After visiting New Zealand in 1919, at the time of the completion of building of the Sarjeant Gallery, Leverhulme donated some of his paintings to the Sarjeant Gallery, including 'Curiosity'.
Frame: 1925 x 1170 x 125mm
oil on canvas
Two young women climbing up a ladder to peer over a brick wall
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Gift of Lord Leverhulme, 1924.
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
13 Feb 1924



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