Interest in traditional folk costumes grew steadily during the Gustavian epoch and is reflected in many of Hilleström´s paintings In 1782 Gustav III personally commissioned the artist to paint “three small pictures of three peasants in their costumes”. Hilleström´s pictures of country life also became very popular with a wider art public, and altogether he produced about eighty paintings featuring the customs and costume of the agrarian population. These subjects gained wider currency through sets of engravings. A large number of Swedish parishes are represented i Hilleström´s costume pictures, but the main focus is on the regions most renowned in this respect: Dalarna, Södermanland and Skåne. He also treats Finnish subjects from Savolax and Karelia.
Hilleström was the first artist to concern himself with recording the traditional dress of the Swedish (and Finnish) people, which makes his pictures an outstandingly important source for studies of costume history.


  • Title: People from Mora in Dalecarlia
  • Creator: Pehr Hilleström
  • Date Created: ca 1782
  • Tags: Swedish
  • Provenance: Wilhelm Kempe, Stockholm bought around 1830-1840.
  • Physical Dimensions: w520 x h425 mm (Without frame)
  • Painter: Pehr Hilleström
  • Artist info: Hilleström was born 1732 in Stockholm as the son of the Captain Pehr Hillström. He grew up under poor circumstances at his uncle´s who was a vicar. His father had already in 1719 been taken in Russian captivity but had managed to return to Sweden and after that took refuge at his brothers house. 1743 the family moved to Stockholm where the young Pehr was apprenticed to a wallpaper and landscape painter Johan Philip Korn and a few years later also to the fan-painter Christian Fehmer. In addition to this he also took lessons at the Royal Academy where Guillaume Thomas (Raphael) Taraval (1701-1750) and John (Jean) Eric Rehn (1717-1793) were teachers. Following the advice of Carl Hårleman, Hilleström was 1745 apprenticed to the hautelisse-weaver Jean Louis Duru. The idea was that Hilleström should be trained as Durus assistant for the coming textile decoration of the Royal Palace. After Duru´sudden death in 1753 Hilleström took over the work with throne of heaven as Duru had started. But the salary was modest and only in 1756 he received a little more money. In the summer 1757 he arrived in Paris in order to study the work at La Savonnerie and Les Gobelins. At the same time he took the opportunity to learn to paint. Back in Stockholm again he continued to produce rugs and fabrics to the castle. 1759 he married Ulrica Lode and settled in a small apartment where a weaving workshop was. When the king Gustav III in 1773 reformed the Royal Academy was Hilleström in his capacity as hautelissse-weaver member, however, he was already at that time also working as a painter. By the king he was commissioned to perpetuate the rides and the theatrical performances given at the Opera and pleasure palaces. He is best known for his many depictions of bourgeois and aristocratic life of the Gustavian epoch hand his paintings give a good insight into daily life in the 1770´s. Another specialty that he occupied himself with was to paint scenes from glass-manufactories, shipyards or mines, including motifs from the Falun Copper Mine. Pehr Hilleström became professor at the Royal Academy from 1794 and its Director from 1810.
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • External Link: Image T 3748

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