Eugène Fredrik Jansson

Eugène Fredrik Jansson, “Naken Yngling (Naked Youth)”, 1907

Eugène Fredrik Jansson was a Swedish painter known for his night-time landscapes and cityscapes dominated by shades of blue and very visible brush strokes.Over the years his paintings moved towards increasing simplification and abstraction, and at the end of his “blue” period, little more than the street lights and their reflections in the waters can be discerned from the mass of blue of the canvas.

Jansson enrolled in the Tekniska stolen, now the Konstfack, and studied with Edvard Perséus, a painter who ran a private school in Stockholm. He was accepted into the Antique school of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in 1881 but did not have sufficient funds to finish his studies with his fellow students in Paris.

After 1904, when Jansson had already achieved success with his “blue period” Stockholm views, Jansson confessed to a friend that he felt absolutely exhausted and had no more wish to continue with what he had done until then. He stopped participating in exhibitions for several years and went over to figure painting. To combat the health issues he had suffered from since childhood, he became a diligent swimmer and winter bather, often visiting the navy bathhouse.

Jansson found the new subjects for his paintings at the bathhouse. He painted groups of sunbathing sailors, and young muscular nude men lifting weights or doing other physical exercises. Jansson also met his lover Knut Nyman at the bathhouse and exhibited Nyman’s portrait, “Naken Yngling”, in 1907. Jansson and Nyman shared a house together next to his studio and lived an isolated life until 1912 while Jansson worked on his new series of paintings.

Eugène Fredrik Jansson died of a cerbral hemorrhage in 1915. Adrian Jansson, his brother, who was also gay, burnt all of Eugéne’s letters and many other papers, possibly to avoid scandal as homosexuality was illegal in Sweden until 1944.


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