Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Venus with a snake 2: Sensuality by Franz von Stuck

Die Sinnlichkeit (Sensuality) (1891)

Here is a far from subtle lady with a snake painting by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) the wealthy, symbolist "painter prince" of Munich. This picture, Sensuality was painted in 1891. A really malevolent-looking snake stares coldy out at the viewer whilst the girl, the thick body of the reptile pressed against her groin and wrapping itself around one leg, has a sort of cold insouciance as if to say "I am sinful and I don't care".

Sin (1893)

He painted a similar painting, Sin, which was exhibited at the exhibition of the Munich Secession in 1893. It was subsequently bought by the Neue Pinakothek musuem where it proved to be such a popular attraction that rows of seats had to be placed in front of the painting for the crowds of viewers who flocked to the gallery when it was put on display.

Sin (1900)

Such was the demand for these paintings that Stuck painted at least eighteen versions of his woman with a snake pictures.

Sin (1899)

Stuck was not only a painter but an architect, engraver and scuptor as well. After studying in Munich during the 1870s and 1880s he started his career as a magazine illustrator. He began teaching at the Munich Academy in 1895 where his pupils included Klee and Kandinsky.

Franz von Stuck

Although Stuck painted some famous paintings, such as his Salome, he is not as well-known as he should be today. Partly because his symbolist paintings fell out of fashion in the first half of the Twentieth Century but also because he had the misfortune to be Adolph Hitler's favourite artist.

The original Villa Stuck before the addition of the studio

Villa Stuck today with the studio (left) added later

He designed and built a house for himself and later added a vast studio to it for sculpting although he never actually did any sculpting in it, giving up the medium during the Great War. This house, the Villa Stuck, is now a museum in Munich. Stuck designed every aspect of the house: exterior, interior, furniture, carpets, wall hangings and fixtures and fittings.

Interior of the Villa Stuck

His woman with snake paintings represent Eve after the fall where she has embraced sin and, indeed is becoming one with it. They had the advantage of giving their nineteenth century audience a warning about the seductive dangers of sin whilst also giving them a sensual, even lascivious, nude into the bargain.

A later version of Sensuality

Sensuality etching (1898)

Stuck is buried next to his American born wife Mary in the influential woodland cemetery the Munich Waldfriedhof which is also, ironically, the resting place for Hitler's filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl.

Stuck's grave in the Waldfriedhof

No comments:

Post a Comment