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The author August Strindberg

Carl Larsson1899

Nationalmuseum Sweden

Nationalmuseum Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden

This painting illustrates the relationship between two of the most prominent figures in Swedish cultural history – the painter Carl Larsson and the writer August Strindberg. Strindberg and Carl Larsson met already in the 1870s, and Carl Larsson made illustrations and covers for some of Strindberg’s books during the following decade. This portrait was painted in 1899 and Carl Larsson has described his work with the picture: “We started in the morning, divided the day into three with meals in between, and the next morning, early, Strindberg was standing by my bed at the hotel exclaiming: ‘A masterpiece, do not touch”. This might be the reason for the unfinished character of the picture, where only the eyes are coloured in blue and the rest is still only a charcoal drawing on canvas.

Details

  • Title: The author August Strindberg
  • Creator: Carl Larsson
  • Date Created: 1899
  • Title in Swedish: August Strindberg
  • Signature: 1899
  • Physical Dimensions: w390 x h560 cm (without frame)
  • Artist Information: Born into a poor family, Larsson entered the preparatory school of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts at the age of just 13. From there he went on to be a successful student at the Academy proper from 1869, while supporting himself as photo retoucher and newspaper artist. In 1877-78 and 1880-85 he lived in France, where he abandoned academic painting in favour of Realism and developed into an outstanding watercolorist. The transition to watercolors came in 1882 when, his work having been refused by the Salon in Paris, he moved to the Scandinavian artists’ colony in the village of Grez-sur-Loing. Here Larsson gave himself up to painting unaffected, brightly lit depictions of everyday life, and met his future wife, the Karin Bergöö, whom he married the following year. Key emphases in his subsequent career were his monumental paintings for Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and his depictions of family life in his new home at Sundborn in Dalarna. With the latter, Larsson staked out a new artistic field, which provided the key to his unparalleled success, both in his own country and in Germany. The success was promoted, not least, by the fact that the watercolors from his home were collected in albums and printed in book form, with an accompanying text by the artist himself. The first and most important of these was A Home, which appeared in 1899 and employed a graphic linear style with coherent blocks of color, akin to both Japanese art and Art Nouveau. The watercolors in A Home were to assume considerable importance as models for a new type of single, yet tasteful and innovative, domestic interior decoration.
  • Type: Drawing/painting
  • Rights: Nationalmuseum, Nationalmuseum
  • Medium: Charcole and oil on canvas

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