Eugène Fredrik Jansson

Eugène Fredrik Jansson, “Flottans Badhus (The Navy Bath House),1907, Oil on Canvas, 197 x 301 cm., Thiel Gallery, Stockholm.

Eugène Fredrik Jansson was a Swedish painter known for his night-time landscapes and cityscapes dominated by shades of blue. From about 1904 to the end of his life in 1915, he mainly painted male nudes. The earlier of these phases has caused him to sometimes be referred to as ‘blåmålaren’ meaning “the blue-painter”.

Art historians and critics have long avoided the issue of any possible homoerotic tendencies in this later phase of his art, but later studies have established that Jansson was in all probability homosexual and appears to have had a relationship with at least one of his models. His brother, Adrian Jansson, who was himself homosexual and survived Eugène by many years, burnt all Eugene’s letters and many other papers, possibly to avoid scandal as homosexuality was illegal in Sweden until 1944.

Note: The custom of swimming nude at institutional pools in all-male settings was at one time the fashion, if not mandatory, in the United States at gender segregated pools in public and private schools, colleges and universities, YMCAs, in the military, and at private men’s athletic clubs. Communal nudity among males was considered completely acceptable and was commonly practiced before it became sexualized and considered taboo, at least in the United States, as a result of increasingly conservative mores and prudishness during the 1970s and 1980s. It effectively ended in the 1990s by the advent of anti-discrimination laws prohibiting exclusion of females from all-male venues. 

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