Friday, July 25, 2014

Carl Larsson

Flowers on the windowsill
watercolor on paper
other detail unknown

Carl Larsson (1853-1919) is one of Sweden's most well loved artists through the ages. He was born in the old quarter of Stockholm. His family was very poor and he grew up in dismal circumstances. The only glimmer of hope was his strong artistic talent, which emerged early on in his life. When he was thirteen years old his teacher at the school for the poor persuaded him to apply for the preparatory department of the Art Academy. During the first year, he found it difficult to settle in. His sense of social inferiority made him feel like an outsider. But that changed when, at the age of sixteen, he was moved up from the preparatory department to the lowest department of the Art Academy. He began to feel more confident and it was not long before he became one of the central figures in student circles.

After the Art Academy, he worked at illustrating books, magazines and daily newspapers. He also spent several years in Paris where he tried to establish himself as an artist, but in spite of all his hard work he never achieved any success. The turning point came in 1882 when he moved to an Scandinavian artists’ colony outside Paris. There, he underwent an artistic transformation after abandoning his pretentious oil painting in favour of watercolours.

Now, he is famous for his watercolor paintings, especially the collection of 26 watercolors in his 1899 picture book "Ett hem" (At Home), the 32 in his 1902 book "Larssons" (The Larssons), and the 31 in his 1910 "At solsidan" (On the Sunny Side) - all of them illustrating his family's idyllic countryside life and having an enormous influence on Swedish interior design for generations to come.