Carl Larsson Sweden

5-28-1853 Stockholm, SWE - 1-22-1919 Falun, SWE

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Larsson, Carl

Carl Larsson parents were extremely poor, and his childhood was not happy. Larsson's father worked as a casual laborer in contrast, Carl's mother worked long hours as a laundress to provide for her family.

However, at the age of thirteen, his teacher at the school for poor children urged him to apply to the "principskola" of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, and he was admitted. During his first years there, Carl Larsson felt socially inferior, confused, and shy. In 1869, at the age of sixteen, he was promoted to the "antique school" of the same academy. There Larsson gained confidence, and even became a central figure in student life. Carl earned his first medal in nude drawing. His annual wages were sufficient to allow him to help support his parents financially.

After several years working as an illustrator of books, magazines, and newspapers, Larsson moved to Paris in 1877, where he spent several frustrating years as a hardworking artist without any success.

After spending two summers in Barbizon, the refuge of the plein-air painters, he settled down with his Swedish painter colleagues in 1882 in Grez-sur-Loing, at a Scandinavian artists' colony outside Paris. It was there that he met the artist Karin Bergöö, who soon became his wife. This was to be a turning point in Larsson's life. In Grez, Carl Larsson painted some of his most important works, now in watercolor and very different from the oil painting technique he had previously employed.

In his later years he suffered from bouts of depression. While working on a large decoration for the vestibule of the Nationalmuseum, Midvinterblot, Larsson experienced the onset of an eye problem and a worsening of his frequent headaches.

Carl Larsson's popularity increased considerably with the development of color reproduction technology in the 1890s, when the Swedish publisher Bonnier published books written and illustrated by Larsson and containing full colour reproductions of his watercolors, titled A Home.

Carl Larsson considered his monumental works, such as his frescoes in schools, museums and other public buildings, to be his most important works. His last monumental work, Midvinterblot (Midwinter Sacrifice), a 6-by-14-meter (20 ft × 46 ft) oil painting completed in 1915, had been commissioned for a wall in the National Museum in Stockholm. However, upon completion, it was rejected by the board of the museum.

Fights between different schools of Swedish artists caused the "Midvinterblot" controversy to continue for many years. In 1987 the museum was even offered the monumental painting for free, provided it would adorn the empty wall for which it had been intended, but the museum declined the offer, so the painting was sold to the Japanese collector Hiroshi Ishizuka. with the help of private donations the museum was able to buy it from Ishizuka in 1997 and permanently display it in the location for which it was intended.

Art Movement: Naturalism
Traveled: France
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