Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Boating Venuses by Leo Putz




Recently we posted a painting by Leo Putz (1869-1940) and a number of people have asked for more pictures by this German (as he is regarded) impressionist.  In this post we will look at the series of paintings he did of women and boats between 1909 and 1914.




His nationality is rather complex, as he was born in Merano in the mountainous region of the South Tyrol on 18th June 1869.  At the time, Merano was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and was German speaking.  The local inhabitants would have called it Meran and Putz would have regarded himself as Austrian.  After the First World War the South Tyrol was transferred to Italy which it remains part of today.




In fact, Putz's father was mayor of Merano and was a great believer in his son's talent.  At the age of sixteen he sent Putz to study at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich.  After this he attended the famous private art school the Académie Julian in Paris.




He had to do his compulsory military service and then returned to Munich to study with Paul Hoecker, the first teacher at the Akademie who had exposed the pupils there to impressionism.  Hoecker also led field trips to enable his students to paint outside, also unusual in German art at the time.


Illustration for the cover of Jugend (1905)


Putz joined the Munich Secessionist movement and by 1897 he had his first studio. To supplement his fine art work, Putz also did posters and illustrations, principally for the weekly Munich based art magazine Jugend.  This featured many Art Nouveau artists, to the extent that the Art Nouveau movement is known as Jugendstil in Germany.


Das kitzlige schnecklein.  Illustration for Jugend


The magazine also offered social and political comment but it was its magnificent illustrations that kept it in print from 1896 until 1940.  Many of the illustrations featured enticing women, often in fantastical settings, like Putz's sexy snail girl here.  The fact that she is tweaking her phallic horn is probably not an accident.  Putz produced a number of erotic pictures which we will look at over on The Seduction of Venus, shortly.


Part of Schloss Hartmannsberg is visible in the background of this painting


In 1909 Putz gained Bavarian citizenship which was a prerequisite for becoming a professor of the Munich Akademie. In the same year he started to spend his summers at the Schloss Hartmannsberg in Bavaria with the painter  Frieda Blell, his model and lover, who he would eventually marry in 1913


Frieda Blell at Hartmannsberg


The castle (which was more like a large country home than a fort) is situated between two lakes, Schlosssee and Langbürgner See.  This bridge of land was an important route even as far back as Roman times and the first fort to be built there was probably in the tenth century.


Schloss Hartmannsberg


Badly damaged in the Thirty Years War it was rebuilt and extensively remodelled in 1680 into its current form.  Putz would rent it as a studio, with a number of his students and friends and would paint in the open air.




One of these students, the American impressionist Edward Cucel, was heavily influenced by Putz's choice of subject matter during these summers (as we will see in a future post).  In 1913 Cucel married Clara Lotte von Marcard a friend of Putz and Blell who also stayed at the Hartmannsberg during these summer sojourns.




During these summers Putz worked on two series of paintings of bathers and women in boats. Quite often the woman in the boats was Frieda, as is the case here.




The enticing thing about Putz's boating paintings is the mixture of clothed images and naked ones.  He painted from life, outside, and it is likely Frieda modelled for both.




These ladies were quite brave to pose like this outside in the period just before the Great War and this boldness adds to the paintings' appeal.




To know that the same women who pose demurely in their white dresses and hats also stripped naked by the water is an enticing thought.




This picture is Triple P's favourite of the series, as the lady sits on her discarded dress but retains her hat. Her voluptuous body is dappled in the sunlight.  There is something timeless about this painting.  It could have been paiinted at any time over the last hundred years but actually pre-dates the sinking of the Titanic.




Putz didn't hide his models' pubic hair either but painted what he saw in a way that was still considered quite bold at the time, even in more body tolerant Germany.






Towards the end of his six summers at Hartmannsberg his style got considearably looser, as we will see with his bathers pictures another time.

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