Saturday, March 31, 2007

Carl and Karin Larsson: An Artistic Partnership that Celebrates Family

I was referred by the comments to another blog (neither of which I can remember now, for which I apologize) to the work of the 19th-century Swedish artist Carl Larsson. You can see Carl Larsson's work here. His paintings are a celebration of family life. From the top, is a self-portrait by Carl Larsson with his wife and children; a portrait of his wife nursing one of their eight children; one of his daughters weaving a red ribbon; one of his sons studying in his room; and one of his daughters sewing. Carl Larson's wife and muse was Karin Larsson, who devoted all her energy to taking care of home, husband, and their eight children, eight: Suzanne (1884), Ulf (1887, but died 18 years old), Pontus (1888), Lisbeth (1891), Brita (1893), Mats (1894,but died 2 months old), Kersti (1896) and Esbjörn (1900).
When the Larsson's inherited a cottage from Karin's father, this became their home, which they turned into a model of Swedish Style, for which it is known to this day. Karin was an artist in her own right and made and designed all the exclusive textiles in the house, together with some furniture. The following was written about Karin Larsson for the exhibition of his work at the
Victoria & Albert Museum in London 1997: "Karin was Carl Larsson's muse. So thoughtful and quiet, he portrayed her as his idol, forever young. She was in fact hard-working, hard headed and highly creative. Carl relied upon her as a critic of his work. She trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm and Paris. After the birth of Suzanne in 1884 she turned her artistry to decorating the home, especially to weaving and embroidery. She also designed furniture and her own and her children's clothes. Her most creative period was between 1900 and 1910. Karin's textiles were absolutely original. Pre-modern in character they introduced a new abstract style in tapestry. Her bold compositions were executed in vibrant colours; her embroidery frequently used stylised plants. In black and white linen she reinterpreted Japanese motifs. Technically adventurous, she explored folk techniques and experimented with others.
At Sundborn the Larssons developed an aesthetic partnership. He was effusive, covering the walls with foliage and flowers, she arranged the living flowers, but in her designs austere and often abstract. The colours of the interior seem to have been jointly decided. Their combined contributions created a perfect whole." You an see pictures of the Larsson home at the site for their family's foundation. Carl Larsson's paintings are a delight to anyone who values family life, as can be seen from just a few of these samples.

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