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Jansson, Eugène Frederik (1862-1915)  
 
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On June 15, 1915, Jansson died after suffering another cerebral hemorrhage.

Destruction of Jansson's Private Papers

Shortly after Jansson's death, his younger brother, Adrian, destroyed Eugène's private drawings and personal papers, presumably because he thought that these materials could tarnish Eugène's posthumous reputation. Obviously, we cannot be sure of the subjects of the drawings, but it seems likely that they included sexually explicit imagery. Undoubtedly, Jansson's diaries would have constituted a valuable resource for queer historians of his art and life.

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While lamentable from a scholarly perspective, Adrian's actions are fully comprehensible within the context of his times. Adrian was a friend of Nils Santesson, whose highly publicized trial for in 1906 stimulated public outrage against homosexuality, which led to increased surveillance of homosexuals and to intensified enforcement of laws against same-sex sexual acts. Despite his association with Santesson, Adrian managed to escape detection in the police investigations of his friends and acquaintances.

The legal authorities resolved to make an example of Santesson, who, as the director of a leading pewter foundry, was well known in artistic circles. Therefore, he was given an unusually severe sentence of ten months hard labor for committing "unnatural" sexual acts. His reputation destroyed, Santesson was unable to resume his former career after being released from prison.

After Santesson moved to Paris in 1912, Adrian maintained a steady correspondence with him. Although Adrian managed to destroy documentation of his brother's sexuality, the letters he exchanged with Santesson were preserved, and these provide valuable insights into the homosexual subculture in Sweden during his lifetime.

Conclusions

Without access to his private papers, queer historians have had to depend on innuendos by his associates as they seek to reconstruct the details of Jansson's personal life. However, his art works provide compelling evidence of his queer perspectives.

The splendid Young Man Standing in a Doorway remains a compelling affirmation of the power of queer love to flourish even in a society. In his monumental paintings of Stockholm's Naval Bathhouse, Jansson captured the emergence of a community of men bound together by mutual desire.

In 2008, Jansson's Self Portrait of 1910 was featured prominently in the Queer--Desire, Power, and Identity show at the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. This exhibition provided belated official acknowledgement of an aspect of his work that his contemporaries preferred to deny or ignore.

Richard G. Mann

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arts >> Overview:  European Art: Nineteenth Century

Several artists and art critics of the nineteenth century achieved a self-aware homosexual identity that is expressed in both their lives and their works, but lesbianism is only rarely depicted in terms of identity during this period.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Twentieth Century

A large number of significant twentieth-century European artists focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themes, making such concerns crucial to the understanding of twentieth-century European art.

social sciences >> Overview:  Stockholm

One of Europe's most progressive cities, Stockholm has recently become notably gay-friendly.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males

Throughout much of history, the nude male figure was virtually the only subject that could be used to articulate homoerotic desire in publicly displayed works of art, as well as those works of art intended for private "consumption."

social sciences >> Overview:  Sweden

A liberal and democratic kingdom, Sweden has a reputation for sexual openness, yet it maintains a law that punishes buyers of sex from prostitutes.

arts >> Hockney, David

One of the liveliest and most versatile visual artists of his generation, David Hockney not only has helped break down resistance to the erotic gaze directed at the male body but also has presented gay male couples in domestic--rather than sensational or sexual--images.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.


    Bibliography
   

Blin, Sylvie. "Jansson dans la ville bleue." Connaissance Des Arts no. 562 (June 1999): 94-99.

Brummer, Hans Henrik. "Blå skymning och atleter: Kring Eugène Janssons måleri." Konsthistorisk tidskrift 68.2 (1999): 65-79.

Claustret, Franck. "Eugène Jansson à corps et âme." L'Oeil no. 507 (June 1999): 92-99.

Eman, Greger. "Bröderna Jansson." Sympatiens hemlighetsfulla makt:Stockholms homosexuella 1860-1960. Fredrik Silverstolpe and Göran Söderström, eds. Stockholm: Stockholmia förlag, 1999. 208-245.

Facos, Michelle. Nationalism and the Nordic Imagination: Swedish Art of the 1890s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Moser, Claes, and Christopher Newall. The Swedish Vision: Landscape and Figurative Painting 1885-1920: An Exhibition Organised by Moser & Klang, Stockholm in Conjunction with Christopher Newall, London, at Shepherd Gallery, New York, Oct. 16th to Dec. 7th, 1985. Stockholm: Moser & Klang, 1985.

Rydström, Jens. Sinners and Citizens: Bestiality and Homosexuality in Sweden, 1880-1950. The Chicago Series on Sexuality, History, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Steorn, Patrik. "Eugène Jannsons vitalisktske motiver og århundredskiftets maskulinitet." Frank Høifødt, trans. Livskraft: Vitalismen som kunstnerisk impuls 1900-1930. Patricia Berman et. al., eds. Oslo: Munch-Museet, 2006. 113-25.

Varnedoe, Kirk. Northern Light: Realism and Symbolism in Scandinavian Painting 1880-1910. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1982.

Zachau, Inga. Eugène Jansson: den blå stadens målere. Lund: Signum, 1997.

------, Hans Henrik Brummer, and Ulf Linde. Eugène Jansson (1862-1915): nocturnes suédois: Paris, Musée d'Orsay, 17 mai-22 août 1999. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1999.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Mann, Richard G.  
    Entry Title: Jansson, Eugène Frederik  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated July 31, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/jansson_ef.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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