"Sommardag, Karin och Brita i trädgården" / "Sommartid"
"In this painting, Carl Larsson has captured the tranquil atmosphere that prevailed on a warm summer day in the year 1911 in the garden in Sundborn. His beloved wife, Karin, has settled herself comfortably with a piece of handiwork in hand. She is wearing one of her signature cool, home-woven, striped cotton dresses, sewn in the simple fashion that was distinctly hers. A sun hat obscures her face entirely.
On the lawn, Brita, the 18-year-old daughter of Carl and Karin Larsson, is engrossed in a book. She has made herself comfortable, using an overturned garden chair as a support for her back. A bottle of homemade lemonade and is close at hand to the table. The majestic birch tree, beneath which the family would often enjoy breakfast on fair days, provides just the right amount of shade. The Sundborn river glinting through the greenery and the southeastern corner of Lilla Hyttnäs frames the quiet scene. Lilla Hyttnäs, the renowned home and studio of Carl and Karin Larsson is now known as Carl Larsson-gården.
To the work
Karin Larsson, born Bergöö, was the hub around which Carl Larsson's life and art revolved. She was his muse, his model and his art critic. She was a trained artist and had studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm and Paris. She was the mother of eight children. When her first daughter Suzanne was born, she turned her artistic endeavours to decorating her home, designing furniture, weaving, embroidering and making clothes for herself and her children.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London "Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style",
October 23 1997 - January 18 1998, depicted on exhibition invitation.
In 1888, Karin and Carl received the cottage Lilla Hyttnäs as a gift from Karin's father. They would go on to transform what was originally a small log cabin into one of the world's most famous and personal artist's homes.
Karin and Carl Larsson were an artist couple who worked in symbiosis, Karin creating the home and interiors that Carl depicted. The bold interior decorating, the modern textiles, the rustic furniture - she designed most of it herself. Karin is now recognized in her own right, thanks in large part to the exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 1997 which celebrated her work. The auction's painting "Summer Day, Karin and Brita in the Garden" was included in the exhibition and was depicted on the exhibition's invitation card. In the extensive catalogue, Karin Larsson's work as a designer and textile artist is described by journalist and author Lena Rydin:
"Karin's textiles were highly original. She anticipated the coming of abstract textile art. Her powerful compositions were executed in vibrant colours; the embroidery often depicted stylised plants. In black and white linen, she interpreted Japanese motifs. Technically adventurous, she explored traditional folk techniques and experimented with others... In Sundborn, the Larssons developed an aesthetic camaraderie. He was exuberant, covering the walls with flowers and leaves. She arranged live flowers but was spartan and often abstract in her designs. The colours of the interiors seem to have been chosen together. Their combined efforts created a perfect whole."
"Dom spritar ärter"/ "Ärtspritning"
On December 26, 1913, Richard Gustafsson wrote to his friend Carl Larsson to express his gratitude for a Christmas gift. In the letter, he described how he and his family had celebrated Christmas Eve at their eldest son's home and returned home late, only to be surprised by the presence of "a friendly Santa Claus who had been up on the hill and left a Christmas gift." The gift was the painting "Dom spritar ärter/ Ärtspritning," created by Carl Larsson in 1908. He also wrote:
"I have had a couple of paintings from your hand before… from your youth… and they have always been dear to me, but the painting you have now gifted me with will certainly double my joy in old age, for it is the epitome of the genre with which you have etched yourself into the heart of the Swedish people. As long as my eyes can see, I will rejoice in your bright image from the Larsson dynasty[...]."
To the work
Behind the family, you can catch a glimpse of a large-scale sketch for Larsson's ceiling mural, "Dramats skapelse" (The Creation of Drama), intended for the The Royal Theater's grand marble foyer. It is propped against the wall behind the ladder that Carl Larsson likely used to reach the expansive surface with his chalk.
Behind Karin, the artist has painted a cactus on a tall flower stalk from which a flower has bloomed. Flowers and plants were important elements in Carl Larsson's artistic work. He wrote in "Åt solsidan" ("Towards the Sun"): "Most often, it's a flower that first captures me, and I cannot find peace in my soul until I have painted it [...]." Karin's dress also provides an opportunity for Carl Larsson to study and capture the delicately decorative qualities of nature. The blue dress with white floral details recurs in the painting "Brudtärnan" (The Bridesmaid), also created in 1908 and included in "Åt solsidan." Together with the sketch for the The Royal Theater's ceiling in the background, the dress creates a contrast to the sharp lines of the furniture, forming a composition filled with dynamism.
"Sommardag, Karin och Brita i trädgården" and "Dom spritar ärter/ Ärtspritning" by Carl Larsson will be sold at Bukowskis' upcoming auction Important Winter Sale, December 6-8.
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