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Oberhauser, Emanuel (Austrian, 1854-1919)
Invoking the hedonistic beauty of the classical past, this masterful oil painting by an Austrian artist is brimming with details of luxury.
Brimming with classical opulence, this large-scale 19th century Austrian genre painting depicts a wonderful mythological scene.
Four figures occupy the scene, all dressed in typical Greco-Roman fashion. The central reclining figure stands out, almost glowing in a swathe of light coming from behind the viewer, suggesting that she could be the goddess Flora herself. All of the figures are portrayed relaxing and laughing, with instruments and garlands discarded, and there is a sense that the festivities are drawing to a languid close given the light of dawn coming in through the background windows.
Alongside the numerous floral decorations and lush plant life, the painting is filled with further allusions to the classical past. The interior is dotted with urns and vases, propped up against columns or balancing on shelves, and in the right background is a bronze figural sculpture, perhaps a classical cast which Oberhauser himself had made a study of. The architecture of the space features a series of typical Ionic-style columns and a rounded central archway, all carved out of vibrant onyx and marble which adds to the rich luxury of the scene. Further details include the incredible heads that frame the central marble chaise, and the sculpture of the sphinx in the central background. The painting has a sumptuous colour palette, with the dusty reds of the interior and the vibrant green plant life contrasting with the purity of the white marble.
The explicit titling of this work could suggest that the painting is depicting the Floralia, an ancient Roman religious festival which celebrated the goddess of vegetation and fertility with games and feasting. The festival was known for its licentious, pleasure-seeking atmosphere, which these tranquil figures can be seen to represent. The painting was previously housed at Ashley Hall, Lancashire, a property that too was legendary for its parties teeming with famous faces.
The painting is surrounding by a stunningly carved giltwood frame featuring ornate floral decoration. The border is reminiscent of acanthus leaves, again situating the viewer in the ancient world of the picture.
Austrian painter Emanuel Oberhauser (1854-1919) had an active career throughout his entire life, specialising in large-scale genre paintings which depicted Classical or Oriental scenes. Oberhauser has signed the lower left of the canvas 'Em. Oberhauser' and inscribed his name and title to the slip of the frame ‘Feast of Flora / E. Oberhauser'.
A truly sublime work, this painting is a masterclass in late 19th Century genre painting and would make a wonderful addition to any home.
Canvas: Height 69cm, width 105cm
Frame: Height 104cm, width 140cm, depth 11cm
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