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Carl Larsson

(Sweden, 1853-1919)
Estimate
3 000 000 - 4 000 000 SEK
273 000 - 364 000 EUR
285 000 - 381 000 USD
Hammer price
4 500 000 SEK
Purchasing info
For condition report contact specialist
Caroline Lindahl
Stockholm
Caroline Lindahl
Specialist 19th and 20th century paintings
+46 (0)721 428 962
Carl Larsson
(Sweden, 1853-1919)

'Kersti 19 år'

Signed C.L. within a circle and dated 1915. Inscribed verso "Min dotter Kersti" and C.L. (My daughter Kersti). Canvas 143 x 81 cm.

Provenance

Kersti Larsson-Hytte.
Private Collection.

Exhibitions

Liljevalchs konsthall, Stockholm, "Invigningsutställning. Larsson - Liljefors - Zorn", March - April, 1916, cat. no 131 (Tillhör Kersti Larsson Hytte); Västerås slott, January 1917; Liljevalchs konsthall, Stockholm, "Minnesutställning. Carl Larsson", March 6 - April 5, 1920, cat. no 311 (Tillhör Fröken Kersti Larsson-Hytte); Liljevalchs konsthall, Stockholm, "Carl Larsson. Minnesutställning", 1953, cat. no 348 with title "Kersti" (tillhörande Fru Kersti Frieberg, Sundborn): Minnesutställning i Falu konsthall, 1953, cat. no 45; Konstmuseet Ateneum, Helsingfors, ”Carl Larsson – På spaning efter det goda livet”, February 10 - April 29, 2012; Åbo Konstmuseum, ”Carl Larsson – Drömmar om harmoni”, Åbo, September 16, 2011 - January 8, 2012.

Literature

Görel Cavalli-Björkman, " Carl Larsson - Porträttmålaren", 1987, mentioned and illustrated p. 127; Georg Nordensvan, ”Carl Larsson”, del II, Stockholm, 1920, p. 231; Ulwa Neergaard, "Carl Larsson. Signerat med pensel och penna", 1999, illustrated p. 539, listed in the catalogue with no 1632.

More information

Background, 1914-15

Ulwa Neergaard gives the following description in her book about Carl Larsson: “On the 1st of March 1914, Carl Larsson had resigned from his commission to decorate the last remaining wall space by the staircase at the National Museum. Instead, he decided to take a risk and paint Midvinterblot [Midwinter sacrifice] and in May that year he put up the almost fourteen-metre long canvas around the walls of his studio in Sundborn. From this point on he is entirely devoted to Midvinterblot”. The work took up all of his time and demanded resources. Models, canvases and paint were costly, and in addition to this, he made trips in order to do detailed studies. A stable source of income, however, was the commissions from Fritzes Kungliga Bokhandel, whose clients wanted watercolours and life studies.
Midvinterblot was first exhibited in June 1915 at the National Museum. The criticism was unbelievably harsh and the reception of Midvinterblot has been described as a personal tragedy for Carl Larsson. The imagery, with a naked king sacrificing himself at Uppsala temple for the good of the people, was considered inappropriate and not befitting the National Museum. “The fate of Midvinterblot broke me! This I admit with subdued rage. Yet it was for the best, once again my intuition tells me that now – for this painting, with all its weaknesses, will be honoured with a far better place someday after I am gone.”

The year 1915

It is against this backdrop that we may view and interpret the painting in the auction, Kersti 19 år. The piece was executed in 1915 when Carl Larsson was in the middle of working on the momentous Midvinterblot. Studies for the painting were scattered throughout the studio, and melancholic thoughts and economic worries were weighing him down. The portrait of his youngest daughter Kersti, who was 19 at the time, was done in the so-called ‘Workshop’ at Lilla Hyttnäs. The room in question was originally used as his main studio, before his new, larger studio (the biggest one at that time in Sweden) was inaugurated on New Year’s Eve 1899. In connection with this Karin Larsson moved her looms into the old space, and it came to be known thereafter as the ‘Workshop’. The room, which also functioned as a living room for the whole family, is still today dominated by the yellow-coloured tongued, grooved and beaded panels on the walls and the green joinery. The interior was both unruly and practical. In one of the corners, there was a red-painted sofa, built into the wall, and a pillar containing a cabinet for paints. Above the sofa the glass painting Ett lustvandrande par i ett historiskt landskap hanged, depicting Karin and Carl Larsson (see photo from the Carl Larsson house).

In the present painting it is Kersti that is depicted, seated quietly in profile on one of the blue-painted 18th-century chairs. The chair has been placed in the corner against the side of the red-painted sofa, and we glimpse the glass painting to the left of a striking bouquet of flowers. Kersti is wearing a dress made by Karin. Her beautifully braided hair arrangement forms a pattern that is in harmony with the scrolling shapes of the bouquet and testifies to Carl Larsson’s unique talent in translating the language of lines. The picture hanging above Kersti’s head is a caricature and creates, with its black colouring and sharp frame, a contrasting effect to Kersti’s soft and billowing form and the sheer fabric of her dress. His otherwise so typical well-defined black outlining is subdued here. Instead, it is the burning ochre, which makes up the background and which frames Kersti in her contemplative position that creates the contrast. This generates a feeling of painterly warmth as opposed to Larsson’s more stylised work. In this almost pre-Raphaelite composition, there is not that exaggerated sentimentality for which Larsson was sometimes criticised. The strong colours and the bold format contribute to revealing Kersti 19 år as one of Larsson’s most modern paintings. Carl Larsson did not feel obliged to change his visual language in line with changing tastes in art, and he remained faithful to his artistic vision throughout his life. Little did he know that this love letter to his daughter would become a timeless work of art that is equally at home on the history-saturated walls of Lilla Hyttnäs as it is in a modern art gallery.

Artist

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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