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Jansson, Eugène Frederik (1862-1915)  
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As Eman has proposed, Young Man in a Doorway also can be understood as a declaration of the artist's love for Nyman. As if to encourage this reading of the picture, Jansson placed Nyman's name directly below his own signature on the canvas. Inscribed underneath the names of Jansson and Nyman, "1906" signifies not only the date of the painting's creation but also the year in which the two men began their relationship.

Jansson and Nyman became acquainted at the Flottans badhus, where they both enjoyed nude sunbathing and swimming. Photographs taken about 1910, showing Jansson and Nyman relaxing at the baths with friends, reveal the pleasure that they took in one another's company.

By 1907, Nyman had taken up residence in Jansson's studio, and they lived together until 1913. During this time, they were regarded as an inseparable couple in artistic circles. They were frequently seen together at elegant restaurants and other establishments in Stockholm.

Jansson provoked scandalized rumors by rejecting invitations to any events that did not welcome his partner. By refusing to conceal his relationship with Nyman, Jansson challenged the restrictive social and sexual conventions prevailing in his society in much the way that he did in his late paintings.

Flottans badhus

Between 1907 and 1911, Jansson made several monumental paintings of men at Stockholm's Flottans badhus, where he had become a frequent visitor by the late 1890s. Photographs of ca 1900 show Jansson swimming in the bathhouse pool. It is interesting to note that some of these images capture Jansson in mid-air in the same pose that he utilized for the divers in Naval Bathhouse (Flottans badhus, 1907, Thielska Galleriet) and Bathhouse Scene (Badtavla, 1908, Konsthall, Öbrero).

During the period that Jansson created his scenes of the Flottans badhus, existing Swedish laws against sexual acts between men were being enforced with increased rigor. The baths provided a refuge from oppression because nude sunbathing and swimming were widely regarded as healthful activities. At the bathhouses, men could safely gaze at and associate with other naked men.

By the early twentieth century, the bathhouses of Stockholm were widely known to be gathering places for men who desired other men, and they attracted numerous homosexual visitors from all over Europe. Although sexual acts seldom took place at the baths, contacts made there often led to liaisons elsewhere and even to long term relationships, as in the case of Jansson and Nyman.

Jansson's procedure in creating the bathhouse paintings differed from the method that he had employed for his earlier cityscapes. Instead of painting from his imagination, Jansson made numerous preparatory sketches of men at the baths; one cannot help but wonder whether Jansson's intense attraction to his new subject matter led to this shift in process.

It should be noted that Jansson modified the sketched figures in some significant ways. For instance, at the baths, he drew men of different ages and of varying degrees of muscular development. In his completed paintings, Jansson populated the baths with the individuals whom he desired: handsome, younger, athletic men.

In the previously mentioned Naval Bathhouse (1907) and Bathhouse Scene (1908), Jansson celebrates the beauty of the nude men swimming and relaxing around the pool. In both works, the prominent foreground figures stand in exaggerated versions of the elegant contrapposto pose used so effectively in Young Man Standing in a Doorway.

The glistening light reflected on their flesh enhances the sensual allure of the men. Helping to create a joyful mood, the colors are bright and glowing. Although blues dominate as in Jansson's cityscapes, they are not muted by the dark tonalities that he employed in his earlier paintings.

Through his skillful organization of figures, Jansson evokes the homoerotic desire that pervaded the bathhouse. Subtle inclinations of heads and other body movements suggest the glances exchanged among the men around the pool. Furthermore, Jansson has arranged the bodies so that one figure leads logically to the next. While preserving the harmony of the overall composition, he organized many of the men into pairs and groups of three. Within each of these groups, the poses of the men's bodies echo one another, thus evoking the sense of rapport that they experienced.

In Swimming Pool (Badsump, 1911, private collection), Jansson has employed a very low perspective, corresponding to the viewpoint of a swimmer in the pool that fills the foreground space. From this vantage point, the background figures standing alongside the pool seem almost diminutive.

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