HOMO HISTORY: Eugene Jansson was born in Stockholm in 1862 and spent the first half of his career as an accomplished landscape painter. He was famous for his Munch inspired nighttime landscapes, featuring gorgeous shades of blue. These works were highly sought after and his career was flourishing, but Jansson was exhausted and had lost interest in landscapes. He decided to change the direction of his work and it would be a drastic change. Jansson met his muse and lover, Knut Nyman, while at the Navy Bath-house in Stockholm. The Naval bath-house, and it’s many handsome young members, would become the inspiration for the second half of Jansson’s career as a painter. His love of men and his passion for painting suddenly merged with his new works. His painting of his lover Knut, “Naken Yngling” (Nude Youth) was exhibited 1907.
Jansson and Knut lived an isolated life for many years while he worked on his new series of paintings. Jansson’s self portrait in the bath-house is oddly revealing for a man who lived in a society where he wasn’t allowed to be openly gay. Jansson and Knut shared a house together, next to his painting studio, until 1912. Jansson painted 4 monumental works set in a bathhouse, as well as nude athletes, until he died cerebral hemorrhage in 1915. After Jansson’s death, his brother (who was also gay) destroyed most of the artist’s letters and papers. This was most likely done to avoid a scandal since homosexuality was illegal in Sweden until 1944, Until very recently, art historians have ignored Jansson’s homosexuality despite the obvious homo-erotic nature of his work.
and this (unrelated) FUN FACT:
From the 1890s to the 1930s, men who swam at the YMCA did so in the nude, apparently wool swimsuits (the fashion of the time) clogged up the pool filters.