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Important Winter Sale: Carl Larsson ”Kersti 19 år”

Carl Larsson

”Kersti 19 år”

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).

› 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. Estimate 3 000 000 – 4 000 000 SEK

Inaugural exhibition at Liljevalchs konsthall

Four years after having completed Kersti 19 år, Carl Larsson, one of Sweden’s greatest painters of all time, passed away at the age of 66. That same year Kersti met her husband-to-be Axel Frieberg, a lieutenant in the Dalarna Regiment. They were married in the studio at Lilla Hyttnäs in 1921. When they were engaged Kersti and Axel had already decided to make the farm known as Spadarvet their home and they moved in immediately after their wedding. In connection with the young couple’s move, the painting Kersti 19 år accompanied them and came to adorn a wall of the yellow room by the dining room. After Karin’s death in 1928, the Larsson children decided to keep the house in Sundborn as it had been during their parents’ lifetime, allowing the public to share their parents’ history. The efforts of Carl and Karin Larsson’s descendants in managing this inheritance have resulted in the artist’s achievements being preserved for generations to come.

Carl Larsson as an oil-painter
One often speaks of Carl Larsson’s watercolours, but many of his most significant works are oil paintings. Early in the summer of 1910, the artist decided to paint a large-scale family painting of an outdoors scene in oil. The painting Frukost i det gröna, currently at Norrköpings Art Museum, was finished in 1913. Carl Larsson also painted a number of other oil paintings and watercolours using elements from Frukost i det gröna. In 2007 Bukowskis sold one of these, Lisbeth vid björkstammen, a large oil painting of his beautiful daughter Lisbeth in half-length. At the art museum in Gothenburg, there is Framför spegeln, a self-portrait of the artist wearing a red coat, an important and large work in oil that shares some compositional similarities with the painting in the auction, Kersti 19 år. With the commission to execute the paintings for the staircase of the National Museum in Stockholm, his long-held dream of working on a more monumental scale was realised. The full-scale version of Gustav Vasa intåg, the second study, and the final version for the upper staircase hall of the National Museum are all executed in oil on canvas. And Carl Larsson was finally vindicated, as history ended up finding in his favour in the case of Midvinterblot. The painting, oil on canvas, 6.4 x 13.6 metres, was brought back to the National Museum ahead of the 1992 Carl Larsson exhibition, and in 1997, with the generous aid of private donors, the piece was bought by the museum from its Japanese owner. Today the painting finally hangs in its intended place and at last Midvinterblot is ‘home’.

Viewing December 2 – 7, Berzelii Park 1, Stockholm.
Open Mon–Fri 11 am–6 pm, Sat–Sun 11 am–5 pm.
Auction Live December 8 – 10, Arsenalsgatan 2, Stockholm.
* Due to new recommendations, Bukowskis kindly asks you to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination from December 1st onwards at indoor events with more than 100 guests. Please take note of this before viewing the Important Winter Sale.

All works by Carl Larsson to be sold at Important Winter Sale

For requests & condition reports Contact our category specialists

Björn Extergren
Björn Extergren
Head of Consignment & Sales Department, Fine Art Stockholm. Specialist Antique Furniture, Decorative Arts and Asian Ceramics
+46 (0)706 40 28 61
Andreas Rydén
Andreas Rydén
Head Specialist, Art, Deputy Managing Director
+46 (0)728 58 71 39
Lena Rydén
Lena Rydén
Head of art, Specialist Modern Art
+46 (0)707 78 35 71