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American & European Paintings - September 2008
 
 
painting
 
Julio Da Costa
(Portugese, born 1855)
Gentleman Shaving
Oil on canvas, 20 3/4 × 13 1/2 inches
Signed at lower right: “J. Da Costa”
RS 3727


Born in Porto, Portugal, Julio Da Costa studied with his uncle Antonio Da Costa (born 1840) and João Correa (1822–1896). In addition to his genre paintings of rural life, Da Costa painted religious subjects and portraits, including a portrait of King Don Carlos I of Portugal.

This comical genre painting of a man shaving retains its original frame whose design alludes to the traditional red and white barber’s pole. The device may derive from the time when barbers acted as doctors and, in addition to cutting hair and shaving beards, bled their patients for what were considered therapeutic purposes; during such gruesome procedures blood often dripped down a pole or stick held by the patient—thus the probable origin of the barber’s pole.


  


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