It’s difficult to be a prophet in one’s own land… I guess the rule can apply to artists too. Carl Larsson, one of the most renowned Swedish painters nowadays, initially had no success in his country. Everything changed when he moved to a Scandinavian artistic community outside of Paris and apparently when he gave up oils for watercolors. But today’s story is not about prophecies but homes!
Larsson moved to Paris in 1877. Initially, he found it very frustrating because he didn’t want to establish contact with the French Impressionists, nor he made any progress in his own career. After spending two summers in Barbizon, he settled down with his colleagues in 1882 in Grez-sur-Loing where he met the artist Karin Bergöö.
Karin was also an artist but after the marriage, and bearing 8 children, she stopped working (so sad!). However, the family quickly became the centre of attention of Carl, too. His most successful works depict his house which nowadays is one of the most famous artist homes in art history. You can read more on the house’s website, here.
The couple received their house from Karin’s father. They kept redecorating it in a comfortable Arts and Crafts style. Karin focused on the textiles whereas Carl painted, also in the style of Aestheticism. His works gained popularity with the development of colour reproduction technology in the 1890s. One of the Swedish publishers, Bonnier, published books written and illustrated by Larsson which contained colour reproductions of his watercolors. Books became real bestsellers!
The Gallery as New House
Having become more successful, Larsson was accepted at the Paris Salon. He was also commissioned to complete several large frescoes for the foyer of the Stockholm Opera. However, the committee for the Swedish National Gallery declined to install Midwinter Sacrifice which showed a Norse legend and was to be installed in the hall of the central staircase. It left Larssen devastated because he considered it his best masterpiece. The Gallery accepted it 8 years later.
After five years closed, the New Nationalmuseum at Blasieholmen opens again October 13, 2018. You will be able to see Carl Larsson’s artworks there.