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Eugène Jansson
(March 18, 1862 - June 15, 1915) Stockholm - Sweden

Eugène Jansson

Painter

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Described as the first Swedish gay painter, in 1905 Jansson was acknowledged as an artist with his monumental paintings of the Swedish capital in blue twilight or dawn, inspired by French Symbolists. After having earned this long-desired esteem from both the critics and the public, Jansson imediately abandoned for good the style that had created his success.

Eugène Jansson and Knut NymanHe isolated himself, together with his boyfriend Knut Nyman, for a few years to learn how to paint the male nude, which he always had aimed to do. In 1907 he exhibited Naken yngling (Naked Young Man), a full figure painting of Knut. Jansson and Nyman became friends at the Naval bath-house in Stockholm, where Jansson was a visitor. The two men shared a home in Jansson's studio until 1912.

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 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 his letters and many other papers, possibly to avoid scandal (homosexuality was illegal in Sweden until 1944).

Eugène Jansson
"Bathhouse Boxers" by Eugene Jansson - early 1900s

Jansson painted four monumental paintings with motifs from the same bath-house, and continued painting naked athletes until an attack of cerebral haemorrhage ended his life.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii

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