Carl Larsson Swedish, 1853-1919
- Carl Larsson
- Julgranskonfekt (Decorating the Tree)
- signed with monogram and dated 1917 l.r.
- pen and ink and watercolour on paper
- 73 by 65.5cm., 28¾ by 25¾in.
Anders Smith, acquired from the artist on 10 January 1917; thence by descent to his grandson, the present owner
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Carl Larsson Minnesutställning, 1953, no. 368
Ulwa Neergaard, Carl Larsson Signerat med pensel och penna, Stockholm, 1999, vol. II, p. 163, no. 1683, catalogued
Perched on a provincial rococo chair, Anna, the little girl from Leksand dressed in traditional costume, reverently selects a sturdy branch of the Christmas tree on which to hang her candle.
Having grown up in a depressed area of Stockholm in impoverished circumstances, Larsson enjoyed the escapism and innocence to be found in local costumes and folklore. He regularly threw fancy dress parties for his children and the many characters in tradition garb that he included in his work reflect Larsson's active promotion of the revival of national folk customs that was bound up in the rising tide of nationalism at the time.
Paramount to everything though was Larsson’s undiluted delight in the innocence and beauty of childhood. As he declared in Åt Solsidan in 1910, ‘Flowers and children, I ought never to paint anything else but you.’ Anna, or Lill-Anna (Little Anna) was one of his favourite models in the later years when his own children were more grown-up. He began painting her as early as 1912 when she wore the yellow dress of younger Leksand girls.
Probably painted in the studio of the school house, a recently finished painting of Hammarby Church (fig. 1) leans against the wall in the lower right corner of the present work. Dated 1917, Julgranskonfekt would in fact have been started in 1916 when the tree was traditionally decorated with glass trinkets, wooden figures, and candles just a few days before Christmas. On buying the painting from the artist almost as soon as it was completed (10 January 1917, as recorded by Larsson in his accounts book), its owner realised he had not been told the ‘official’ title Larsson traditionally gave each work so, on writing to the artist, received a concise reply on Sundborn letterhead paper declaring: d. 20 Febr. 1917 / Julgranskonfekt / Akvarell af / Carl Larsson (fig. 2). This original note from the artist is sold with the present work.
Fig. 1, Carl Larsson, Våra Fäders Kyrka. Hammarby, Södermanland, 75 by 100cm., 1916, Private Collection, visible in the present work ----- digi ref 257D06101
Fig. 2, Photograph of the Sundborn letterhead paper signed by the artist giving the title of the painting and dated 20 February 1917 (sold with the present work) 168D06101
Fig. 3, Photograph of Carl Larsson painting the church in 1916 ----- digi ref 258D05102