NSFW! the nude male art & photographs of Eugène Jansson


Eugène Jansson

Originally famed for his blue-tinged nocturnal cityscapes, Eugène Jansson changed course in 1904 and focussed on painting male nudes. Specifically, the young sailors he photographed and painted at Stockholm’s floating naval bathhouse.

Eugène lived with his mother and younger brother Adrian, also gay, all his life. Some of their gay friends thought the two brothers indiscreet, known to stroll around in public with working-class trade. But in 1907, Adrian’s friend, sculptor Nils Santesson, was convicted of a homosexual offence and sentenced to ten months’ hard labour.

Adrian, already wracked with Protestant guilt, rushed back into the closet. But not Eugène. He began to glory in the company of young, nude, muscular sailors.

He’d started swimming at the naval bathhouse after he gave up painting landscapes. He felt burnt out and he’d suffered health problems since childhood. The Flottans Badhus‎ (floating bathhouse) proved invigorating. Probably the exercise and fresh air, not to mention the hot young muscular sailors strutting about naked, and reputedly, available.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. Sailors posing for Eugène Jansson’s camera at the Flottans Badhus‎.

The floating bathhouse already enjoyed notoriety in European gay circles, an obligatory stopover for wealthy gays on Grand Tours of the continent. Although discretion ruled on the premises, many of the poorly paid sailors happily agreed to meet elsewhere, for a price.

Eugène Jansson undoubtedly partook of the delights on offer, but he also worked hard to capture the beauty of his subjects on canvas. Many of his paintings took direct inspiration from scenes at the bathhouse. Check out the following images. In the first photograph, a nude diver soars through the air with an audience of nude sailors watching on. In the next, it’s Eugène himself doing the diving. Following: paintings of divers in the same pose.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. A nude diver at the naval bathhouse.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. Eugène Jansson photographed mid-air at the bathhouse.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. Naval Bathhouse by Eugène Jansson, 1907.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. Bathhouse Scene by Eugène Jansson, 1908.

In 1907, Eugène Jansson exhibited his first large-scale painting of a nude male figure, Young Man Standing in a Doorway. The painting depicts model Knut Nyman in a doorway with previous works by Jansson in the background. Critics take the painting to indicate Jansson’s intention to move on from the past and focus on his new interests.

And in more ways than one. Unusually, Eugène Jansson did not only sign his name at the bottom of his work. He also inscribed the name of his model. Eugène met Knut Nyman at the bathhouse the year before. By 1907 when the painting was exhibited, the pair were inseparable. They lived together and Eugène insisted the art world accept them as a couple. He refused invitations that did not include Knut. This, in the same year Nils Santesson went to jail.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. Young Man in a Doorway.

NSFW! Click here: Photograph of Eugène Jansson and Knut Nyman, nude at the naval bathhouse, 1907.

eugene jansson
Newspaper article about Nils Santesson’s jailing

Eugène’s painting of Knut and subsequent monumental nudes proved a bit too much for the art world of the era. Other painters depicted nudes but tended to keep the genitalia indistinct. Eugène, on the other hand, put those dicks front and centre. Critics withheld the praise they previously lavished on the painter and exhibitions happened less often. However, he retained some of his previous patrons and gathered new sponsors, including Prince Eugen, the wealthy and gay younger brother of Sweden’s King Gustaf V. Gustaf was also gay, outed years later by a blackmailer.

Eugène Jansson suffered a stroke in 1915. He was cared for by one of his models, Rudolf Rydstrom, a trained nurse. Rudolf, reputedly an exceptionally handsome man, was a wrestler who’d competed at the 1912 Summer Olympics.  However, Eugène died six months after his stroke.

Brother Adrian destroyed Eugène’s archive of letters, photographs, and drawings — anything which might indicate what everyone already knew — that Eugene was gay. However, when Adrian died, his own long correspondence with Nils Santesson survived. That and the correspondence of other gay artists who knew Eugène allow us insight into the life of a talented, remarkable, and defiantly authentic man.

NSFW! Click here: Full-frontal nudity. Sailors boxing nude at the floating bathhouse.

NSFW! Click here: Photograph of three models posing nude in front of Eugene’s monumental nude artworks.

NSFW! Click here: Self Portrait of Eugène Jansson at the naval bathhouse.

Also: NSFW! Auguste Neyt, the model for The Bronze Age by Rodin, photographed nude in the 1870s.

NSFW!!! Vintage photographs of nude and almost nude Aussie male swimmers.

NSFW! Vintage nude male swimmers by Thomas Eakins.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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