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August Strindberg

(Sweden, 1849-1912)
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August Strindberg
(Sweden, 1849-1912)

"In the Archipelago" (verso "Sea-Scape")

Unsigned. Executed on Dalarö 1892. Oil on (double sided) zinc 43 x 63 cm.

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Managing director Erik Frisell, Stockholm; Managing director Sven Frisell, Stockholm; Mrs. Cathrine Frisell, Rouret, France; Bukowski Auktioner AB, Stockholm, Sale 486, "Internationella Höstauktionen", November 25 - 27, 1992, lot 140; J.E. Safra Collection.


Gummesons Konsthall, Stockholm, "Målningar af August Strindberg", January 8 - 31, 1924 (ex cat.); Liljevalchs Konsthall (Liljevalchs Public Art Gallery), Stockholm, "August Strindberg-Carl Kylberg-Max Book", April 10 - May 31, 1992, no. 4 and 5; Tate Modern, London, "August Strindberg. Painter, photographer, writer", February 17 - May 15, 2005, no. 55 and 56; Musée Cantonale des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, "August Strindberg. De la mer au cosmos", October 14, 2016 - January 22, 2017.


Göran Söderström, "Strindbergs måleri", 1972, listed in the catalogue p. 337 under no. 30 and 30 b, "I havsbandet" illustrated p. 100; Olle Granath, "August Strindberg. Painter, photographer, writer", 2005, pp. 80-81, illustrated in colour; Camille Leveque-Claudet, "August Strindberg. De la mer au cosmos", exhibition catalogue, Musée cantonal des beaux-arts, Lausanne, 2016, pp. 36-37, illustrated in colour; Göran Söderström, "Strindbergs måleri", 2017, listed in the catalogue p. 423-424 under no. 30 and 30 a.t. , illustrated full page in colour p. 130-131.

More information

The 1890s was a turbulent decade for August Strindberg, marked by the deepest crisis of his life, the so-called "Inferno crisis", which culminated in Paris in 1896. In the spring and summer of 1892, he rented a small cottage on Dalarö just south of Stockholm. The painful divorce with Siri von Essen was well under way at the same time as Strindberg had great difficulties in getting his plays performed in the theaters. The strained finances and the overall chaotic life situation significantly affected Strindberg's literary production and led to him being basically unproductive as a writer for a number of years. Strindberg's time was instead occupied by scientific experiments and painting.

In the summer of 1892, he made some 30 paintings at Dalarö, on whatever he could find to paint on, alone on his peninsula. This was when he began using a palette knife and left naturalism behind for a more unique imagery. He seemed to take his painting seriously, painting the sea on calm days as well as in full storm. Lots of sky and water, here and there sometimes a buoy or a lighthouse.

In "Strindberg - Painter and photographer" (Yale University Press in association with The Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2001) curator Per Hedström writes the following about Strindberg's paintings from the early 1890s: "The 1892 paintings from Dalarö can best be characterized as images derived from Strindberg’s memories of the outer archipelago and the open sea. He was now refining and developing the range of motifs he had created during the 1870s; the pictures are dominated by the open sea, the level horizon and extensive skies".

Although many of these paintings hark back to the images of the 1870's motif-wise, the paintings from Dalarö are characterized by an expressive and symbolist quality where the palette knife came into frequent use.
"In the Archipelago" and "Sea-Scape" belong to a group of larger paintings from Dalarö in 1892. Sizewise they are only eclipsed by two other compositions from this year ("The Flying Dutchman", 61 x 96 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen and "The Vita Märrn Seamark II", 60 x 47 cm, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm). Carried out on opposite sides of the same sheet ”In the Archipelago” and ”Sea-Scape” – one tranquil coastal view and another more tempestuous seascape can be seen as two different aspects of the artist’s personality. Highly aware of his propensity to mood swings, they may be an attempt on Strindberg’s part to acknowledge the extremes within his own character. By his own admission he could simultaneously appear sociable and calm and yet be boiling with rage or anguish under the surface.


August Strindberg is one of Sweden's most known writers, playwrights and artists. He was a central figure in the cultural life of his time and as a conflict-seeking socially critical person, he was constantly debated. Strindberg started painting as a young man but took a break in the 90s, when he came to spend a lot of time with artists both in Sweden and abroad. He painted more than a hundred paintings of windy seas, stormy skies and landscapes, he painted in dramatic color scale and characterized by the artist's strong temperament. He early became internationally known for his works, thoughts and ideas. Strindberg was constantly productive and pioneering. Represented, among others, at the National Museum, the Nordic Museum and the Thielska Gallery in Stockholm, as well as in many private collections.

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