Hans ZATZKA (1859-1945) ~ Through the Keyhole ✿

Hans Zatzka (Austrian, 1859-1945) A Look through the Keyhole (Un Regard par le Trou de la Serrure) 1890-1900
In this alluring oils on canvas and oils on panel by Hans Zatzka, entitled Through the Keyhole, a beauty casually disrobes surrounded by love tokens from her paramour. Viewed as though through a keyhole thanks to the figural frame, this exquisite work exemplifies the voyeuristic eroticism that emerged in the staid atmosphere of Victorian society. Zatzka was a painter of both the saintly and the seductive. Also known as P. Ronsard, Bernard Zatzka, Joseph Bernard and other pseudonyms, this Academically-trained Austrian classicist was a master of allegorical subjects, genre scene paintings, and figures. Ethereal and highly detailed, these captivating works pulled the viewer in to their lushly-composed scenes. It is one of only handful of keyhole paintings created by this celebrated artist.
Femme en déshabillé, vue par le trou de la serrure, Huile sur panneau

A Fine and Charming Oil on Canvas Titled "Through the Keyhole" depicting a young beauty seated on a bed and getting undressed as seen through a keyhole, within a gild-wood and gesso frame. Signed: Zatzka (lower left). Circa: 1890-1900.

 Keyhole paintings developed in the repressive atmosphere of Victoria society. Thanks in part to the dominance of Evangelical Christianity and partly to Queen Victoria herself, whose prudishness and mourning for her late husband, Prince Albert, remained unmitigated for decades, the Victorian relationship with the nude body was at best intensely problematic. Though classical nudes had been seen as an essential form of art for centuries, Victorian society saw only shameful nakedness in the unclothed human body, and sought to divorce the form from any notion of sexuality. Thus, this era of strict and correct social behavior produced many different forms of highly-colored erotica, of which "Keyhole paintings" are but one.

A Fine and Charming Oil on Panel Titled "Through the Keyhole" depicting a semi-nude young beauty sensually standing in her boudoir and getting undressed as seen through a keyhole, within a gild-wood and gesso frame. Signed: H. Zatzka (lower right). Circa: 1890-1900.
Born in 1859 in Vienna, Zatzka became a pupil at the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Vienna between 1877 and 1882. In 1880, at the age of 20, he was awarded the Golden Fügermedal for services to the city Vienna. He made several trips to Italy, and began to work as a freelance fresco painter, both for residences, hospitals and especially churches. He dedicated most of his artistic life to decorating the numerous churches in Vienna, Mayerling, Olmutz and Innsbruck with his emotive and highly-regarded religious paintings, but he was more widely known for his more titillating subjects. Working under a number of other aliases, including Zabateri, Pierre de Ronsard, Bernárd Zatzka and Joseph Bernard, Zatzka incorporated sensuous female figures, genre scenes, and mythological allegories into his repertoire. As passionate as his religious paintings were pious, these works were so popular that Zatzka even had some of them reproduced as postcards.
Greatly influenced by the operas of Richard Wagner, Zatzka also produced ground-breaking "bedroom" or "towel format" pictures, which were designed to fit the low ceiling and cramped spaces. By 1914, the first of Hans Zatzka's bedroom images were distributed, and by the 1920's, this style was the size of choice for most European homes. Zatzka painted until the 80th year of his life. He died either in 1945 or 1949. To this day, his work is highly collectible.

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