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Carl Larsson

(Sweden, 1853-1919)
4 000 000 - 5 000 000 SEK
364 000 - 455 000 EUR
381 000 - 476 000 USD
Hammer price
4 600 000 SEK
Purchasing info
Carl Larsson
(Sweden, 1853-1919)

"Titt-ut" ("Peek-a-boo")

Signed C.L. within a circle and dated 1901. Watercolour on paper 38 cm x 55 cm.

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Newspaper proprietor Frithiof Hellberg (1855-1906, founder of "Idun" magazine, purchased directly from the artist in 1901); Mrs. Maria Hellberg (1858-1957, wife/widow of the above mentioned); Magaliff Art and Antiques, Stockholm; Johan Danielsson, Insjön, Sweden; Bukowski Auktioner, Stockholm, Sale 423, "Höstauktionen", 1 November 1983, lot 361; private collection (acquired at the above sale); Sotheby's London, "Scandinavian Paintings (Private Collector)", 23 March 1988, lot 94; J.E. Safra Collection (acquired at the above sale).


Dresden, "Grosse Kunstausstellung", May 1904 (under the title "Ein Blick durch die Sofalehne"); Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, "Minnesutställning -Carl Larsson", 6 March - 5 April 1920, no. 165.


Witold Rybczynski, 'A Homemade House', article in 'Art & Antiques', December 1990, illustrated p. 77 hanging on the wall of the artist's little studio (photograph by Kari Haavisto); Ulwa Neergaard, "Carl Larsson. Signerat med pensel och penna", 1999, mentioned pp. 286-287, illustrated half page in colour p. 287 and listed in the catalogue under year 1901, p. 84 no. 979.

More information

Carl Larsson was a leading member of the progressive generation of Swedish artists who sought to bring fresh life to the art of their homeland in the 1880s and ‘90s. Although his gifts as a mural painter led to important and lasting public commissions in Sweden (for example the grand entrance hall and staircase at Nationalmuseum [National Gallery of Art], Stockholm), he is best known and loved for the special quality of the paintings he made –mostly in watercolour, a medium of which he was a master- of the life of his family in and around their country house in the village of Sundborn.

This house stands today as an internationally unique early example of the Arts and Crafts style in cottage architecture and interior design.
Inspired by the beautiful country home he and his wife designed together, Carl Larsson created paintings of compelling artistry and unique charm that have earned him continuing admiration far beyond his native Sweden. As the “illustrator of his own life”, he developed a distinctive style combining a precise flowing line, fresh yet subtle colour, and a strong sense of decorative design into which the intrinsically appealing figures of his beloved wife and seven adorable children are integrated. Rarely has the visual fabric of domestic life been so richly celebrated as in the internationally sought after work of this extraordinary artist.

“Peek-a-boo” was painted in 1901, which turned out to be a remarkable year for Carl Larsson. In the beginning of the year Carl Larsson had been awarded “La Croix de Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur” (Knight’s Cross of the French Legion of Honour) by the President of the French Republic. At the end of the year, in December, he would also be awarded a gold medal by the jury presiding over the International Art Exhibition in Dresden, Germany.

On a personal level, and possibly more important than all the international awards, was that Carl Larsson and his extensive family moved permanently to their ever expanding country house in Sundborn in March 1901. Here Larsson immediately started painting some of his most beloved pictures like “Till en liten vira/Before the Little Card Party” (oil on canvas, 68 x 92 cm, 1901), today one of the most popular paintings in Nationalmuseum (National Gallery of Art), Stockholm.

There are strong resemblances between “Before the Little Card Party” and “Peek-a-boo”. Both pictures show the Larsson family’s love of green and red colours in interior design and Larsson also revels in the rendering of sumptuous detail, celebrating not only the rooms in themselves, but also minutely depicts all the ornate objects in the rooms.

“Peek-a-boo” shows Carl Larsson's studio in Sundborn before the wall to the long corridor was erected, and before the fireplace was completed. Larsson's youngest daughter, Kersti (born in 1896), is on the bench to the left (possibly in the middle of the little game after which Carl Larsson named the painting). In the background is a study for “Gustav Vasa's Entry into Stockholm”, executed for the staircase of the Nationalmuseum (National Gallery of Art) in Stockholm, the pendant to Larsson's “Midvinterblot”. The furniture can still be seen today at the Carl Larsson-Gården in Sundborn.

Frithiof Hellberg, founder and owner of the Swedish Magazine "Idun", purchased the work from the artist in 1901. He received permission to make colour lithographs of this work under Larsson's supervision for subscribers to "Idun". As a result, it is one of Larsson's most well-known and loved works, painted in blissful happiness in the new home of the artist and his family.

Please note that on this lot there is a security interest with a Third Party.


Carl Larsson is considered one of the greatest Swedish artists of all time. He was born in Gamla Stan in Stockholm and studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in the years 1866-76. After his studies in Stockholm, he traveled to France and settled in Grèz-sur-Loing. There he mainly painted garden motifs. In France, he met his future wife Karin Bergöö, who was also an artist and came to mean a lot for his artistry. Already during his student years, he made a living as a photo retoucher and cartoonist in the press. It was also during his studies that Larsson got to know Anders Zorn and Bruno Liljefors, together the three are usually called the ABC artists. At the end of the 1880s, Carl and Karin were given "Lilla Hyttnäs" in Sundborn outside Falun by Karin's father, and this is where Larsson's most famous watercolors depicting his family were created. The motifs often depict sunny landscapes with children, crayfish fishing, meals in the green and interior scenes. Larsson is represented, among other, in the National Museum, where "Gustav Vasas intåg i Stockholm" and "Midvinterblot" fills the stairwell. Represented mainly at the National Museum in Stockholm and at the Gothenburg Art Museum.

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