|Today I would like to introduce you to a Swedish Artist of a special kind. His name was Carl Larsson and he was born in 1853 in Stockholm, Sweden.
His parents were extremely poor and Carl had an unhappy childhood. When he was 13 years old, his teacher at the school for the poor had persuaded him to apply for enrollment at Principskolan, the preparatory department of the Royal Art Academy. For Carl it made all the difference in the world.
But let me tell you how my attention was directed to his many masterpieces of art.
It happened at my Grandmothers place. She owned a whole lot of old books and whenever we were visiting Granny, I was deeply buried in all those old books. One of them was a blue book named “Das Haus in der Sonne” (The house in the sun) It came out in 1909. It depicted the works of Carl Larsson.
I still have that book.
At art school Carl Larsson felt socially inferior and confused, but when he got promoted to ‘antique school’, he gained confidence and even became a central figure between his fellow students. Larsson worked as a caricaturist for the humorous paper Kasper and as graphic artist for the newspaper Ny Illustrerad Tidning. His annual wages were sufficient to allow him to help his parents out financially.
Larsson moved to Paris in 1877, where he spent several frustrating years as a hardworking artist without any success. Larsson was not eager to establish contact with the French progressive Impressionists; instead, along with other Swedish artists, he cut himself off from the radical movement of change.
After spending two summers in Barbizon, the refuge of the plein-air painters, he settled down with his Swedish painter colleagues in 1882 in Grez-par-Nemours, at a Scandinavian artists' colony outside Paris. It was there that he met the artist Karin Bergöö, who soon became his wife. This was to be a turning point in Larsson's life. In Grez, Larsson painted some of his most important works, now in water colour and very different from the oil painting technique he had previously employed.
Carl and Karin Larsson had eight children (one died after 2 months)and his family became Larsson's favourite models. Many of his water colours are now popular all over the world.
When Granny gave me the Carl Larsson book ‘Das Haus in der Sonne’ it had a profound influence on my later life. It was the simplicity of Larsson’s home-making which intrigued me again and again. My love for charming old homes, my sense of using colors and materials in building a home, even the urge of living in the country, as far as possible from big cities, stems from Carl Larssons pictures. But there are things in his pictures which are hard to put words on. As a former caricaturist he had an eye for facial expressions and special characters. If I see the picture of the neighbour woman holding a cow with a rope I can hear her broad Swedish dialect when she is spreading the village gossip.
Carl Larsson’s strong desire and attention to details are evident in every single one of his pictures.
The fact that Larsson grew up in a poor family made him build his home in Lundborn close to the city of Falun with whatever materials he could procure. The result is a house within it’s own architectural class and style. Nobody else in the world has a house like the one Carl Larsson got built for his family. He put all his love, his natural being and wisdom of life itself into this house. To understand this, one has to view his pictures.
Carl Larsson loved his wife in a special way. When he talked about her he would describe her as having a ‘potato nose’ and ‘beautiful big cow eyes’. Saying this to your wife might lead to a bitter divorce, however Carl had seen the special charm of Karin Bergöö and had special loving expressions for it.
Carl Larsson got to be Sweden’s most famous and ‘biggest’ painter, while he was still alive.
He died on January 22 1919 in his house in Lundborn.
Of course, there is much, much more to say about Carl Larsson and his family, and if you like you can google him.
Wishing you a lot of fun with that and thanks for stopping by