At Home with Carl Larsson

A home is not dead, but living, and like all living things must obey the laws of nature by constantly changing.” Carl Larsson

Carl Larsson “The Kitchen. From A Home (26 watercolours)” (Public Domain)

Annika Perry from Annika Perry’s Writing Blog, suggested that the Swedish Painter, Carl Larsson, would be an excellent addition to ChasingART’s “Home in Solitude” series. I had never heard of the painter, Carl Larsson and am indebted to Annika for the introduction. He is one of Sweden’s most cherished artists, representing the Arts and Crafts Movement in the 19th century.

Carl Larsson “A Studio Idyll. The Artist’s Wife and their Daughter” (Public Domain)

Carl Larsson recognized the profound need and longing to have a home, a place to feel safe and loved. His early childhood was difficult and influenced his painting which focused on family life and home, simple and peaceful.

Carl Larsson “Azalea Thielska” (Public Domain)

In 1853, Carl Larsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden from “humble beginnings” which is a gentile way of saying extreme poverty. Home was never secure and the threat of being turned out on the street was real. Carl’s mother, who worked long hours as a laundress, was his strongest supporter in those early days.

And then serendipity came knocking. When he was thirteen, a teacher (bless our teachers!) encouraged Carl to apply to the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. At first, he felt out of place because of his poor background, but an overwhelming love for art gave him the confidence to continue and thrive. He won every important art prize during his time at the Academy.

And then there was Paris… but that is another story. What I can tell you is that he met his life partner, Karin Bergöö at Grez-sur-Loing, a Scandinavian artists’ colony outside Paris.

Carl and Karin become a brilliant painting duo, a power couple. Karin is featured in many of his painting which depicts the joy of family life.

Carl Larsson, Self Portrait (Public domain)

33 Replies to “At Home with Carl Larsson”

  1. Rebecca, I’m so glad you took up my suggestion and included Carl Larsson in your series. Your post about his life is superb; it is extraordinary the hardships he overcame along the way to becoming an artist. As you say, a blessing of all those special teachers in our lives! I love how his paintings depicted the wonderful home life which he never had as young but created with his equally talented wife!

    Many thanks for the mention and it’s been interesting to read the detailed comments here. His work touches so many of us.

    Wishing you a lovely start to the week. xx

    1. I have learned so much from “Chasing Art” – it really is a treasure hunt. I am always surprised, delighted, challenged by what I find. The stories are remarkable, full of joy, drama, tragedy, redemption! Thank you for the introduction to Carl Larsson!!

  2. “Azalea Thielska” is absolutely stunning! Love it.
    I’ve seen “A Studio Idyll. The Artist’s Wife and their Daughter”, or a photo of it somewhere.
    His style is enchanting.
    I know the name Carl Larson, and somehow know he’s an artist, but that’s about it. As always you have given a nice, tidy bio on the artist.
    Thank you, Rebecca! (neat series)

    1. I had never heard of him before I decided on the “House and Home” series. There is another one that I’m looking into that is very interesting. Ah, history has so many marvelous adventures. Hugs coming your way, Resa!

  3. I’ve seen his “Midvinterblot” in the Stockholm museum which is quite awe inspiring in its monumental dimensions. The museum’s decision to not accept it – after commissioning it from him – was one of the heartbreak’s of his career. Hoping this finds you well!

    1. Thank you for your excellent comment. I did not know about Midvinterblot! As soon as I read your comments, I rushed to do a mini-research project on this painting. I can see why Carl Larsson had high hopes for this painting as it celebrates Swedens deep Norse roots. “The painting depicts a legend from Norse mythology in which the Swedish king Domalde is sacrificed to avert famine. After long debate, the painting was rejected by the museum; but the controversy resurfaced in the late 20th century, and the painting finally was placed where Carl Larsson had intended.” Thank you for adding depth to this discussion. You have made my day!!!

  4. Perfect title for a beautiful post, my dear Rebecca. This painter certainly makes you feel at home! Love the kitten and the curtain as the breeze lifts it and the expression of his wife in both paintings [I think it’s her in the “Azalea Thielska”, isn’t it?] Happy June! 🙂 xoxoxo

    1. I agree, Marina, What comes through in every painting, is a love of home, a place of respite, of creativity, of conversation, of being at peace. Thank you for being an artist and sharing your creativity. It feels like I come home every time I stop by….

  5. Die Bilder dieses Malers strahlen Harmonie aus und gefallen mir sehr. Vielen Dank für dieses schöne Portrait von Carl Larsson. Liebe Grüsse aus der Schweiz.

    1. Ich danke Ihnen und wünsche Ihnen alles Gute von Vancouver in die Schweiz. Ich freue mich, dass Ihnen diese Bilder gefallen haben. Es war das erste Mal, dass ich von diesem Künstler hörte. Ich lerne weiter. Es hält das Leben sehr aufregend.

  6. Another wonderful artist…I especially like his sensibilities. All the paintings are beautiful, but I’m partial to the one with the loom and the flowering tree 🙂 Thank you again, Rebecca!

    1. I wondered if anyone would see the loom in the background and the project that is on the go – a striped multi-coloured cloth. I imagined the light flooding in the warmed of a summer afternoon. Who was the woman looking at? What was the conversation – so many questions that add to the narrative.

  7. This is especially interesting to me. I do not recall that you every featured a Swedish artist before. And so well written. Since I grew up in a largely Swedish community many years ago, many of the Swedish stories are very interesting to me. My Grandfather, Carl, was very proud of his Swedish background and my father who had hired help in the early days had Swedish men working for him because he could understand and talk to them. And the family name, Larson, was very common. I especially enjoy this artist and his paintings because the Swedish families in my community were humble farming citizens. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed the art. I confess that I did not know anything about Carl Larsson, until Annika introduced me to him. The paintings reminded me of my Grandparents home, which epitomized family life. It is the little things like cooking, sewing, reading, playing the piano, gathering flowers that give us our best memories. Hugs!

  8. How beautiful. Well done Annika for her suggestion, and well done you for following up so that we can all share in this artist’s lovely work, thank you!

    1. So glad that you enjoyed this post. I just had to tell you of the artist that I have just found that connects Scotland with Canada. What a story. Katherine Jane “Janie” Ellice (née Balfour; 1813 – 13 April 1864) was a Scottish artist and diarist. She is most remembered for her chronicle and watercolours of a trip to Canada, in 1838, where she and her sister were taken prisoner during the Battle of Beauharnois. And lived to tell the tale! Can you imagine this story and I’m just finding out about it now!!! So many more stories are out there!!

      1. Nation Galleries is my go-to place, Liz. They have brilliant articles and great videos that enhance the virtual experience. Thank you for the link – I am having tea and will be visiting Edinburgh this afternoon. Hugs and more hugs along with my thanks.

      2. Roll on the time when you can be back here in person! 😀💕

  9. Very interesting. His depictions of home are indeed soothing and heartfelt. Thanks for introducing us to this artist.

    1. I’m so glad that you joined me. I had never ever heard of Carl Larsson before. So many stories held in the folds of history. Hugs!

  10. Lovely story with such a happy ending! ;-> His style is very pleasing.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    1. I love those happy endings too, especially after a very very difficult childhood. His mother was remarkable and kept the family together with hard work and effort. He said that his mother and his wife were the foundation for his life’s work.

  11. Wow, Rebecca — beautiful art, and the privilege of learning about a painter with whom I wasn’t familiar.

    1. Dave – the best part about blogging is that my knowledge has increased exponentially. Carl Larsson was extraordinary. His father was a drunkard that gave little support to the family who lived in dire poverty. Creativity has the power to revive our spirits and give voice to a new direction. I smiled when I read that both Carl and his wife were surprised that their paintings were so much in demand. Over the past weeks, I have appreciated the solace of home, of being safe, and having a place to feel at peace. All the best to your family and Misty!! Isn’t it Caturday today!?

      1. “Creativity has the power to revive our spirits and give voice to a new direction” — great line, Rebecca! Certainly was the case with Carl Larsson as he overcame a difficult childhood. And he and Karin were such a great couple — both so artistically talented.

        All the best to your family, too! Misty the cat certainly enjoyed his “Caturday” — it was a beautiful day for his leashed walk.

    1. Thank you, Cindy!!! Carl Larsson lived an extraordinary life and overcame difficult circumstances. Perhaps that is why these paintings of home resonate.

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