Lot 109
  • 109

Carl Larsson Swedish, 1853-1919

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Description

  • Carl Larsson
  • Napp (Fishing)
  • signed with monogram and dated C.L. / 1909 l.r.

  • watercolour and pencil heightened with gouache on paper
  • 51 by 72cm., 20 by 28¼in.

Provenance

Bjarne Wessel (purchased at the 1912 Amsterdam exhibition)

Exhibited

Exhibited as part of the series Åt solsidan, 1909-1914:
Gothenburg, 1909
Munich, Glaspalats, Ein Künstlerheim, 1909
Berlin, Ed. Schultes Kunstsalon, Ein Künstlerheim, 1909
Stockholm, Georg Nordensvan, Åt solsidan, 1910
Malmö, Konstföreningen för södra Sverige, Carl Larsson, 1910 
Vienna, Künstler im Künstlerbund, Das Haus in der Sonne,1910
Rome, The International Art Fair, 1911
Amsterdam, Larensche Kunsthandel, Åt solsidan, 1912
Helsinki & Turkku, Carl Larsson: Åt solsidan, 1913
Hudiksvall, Åt solsidan, 1913
Malmö, The Baltic Exhibition: Åt solsidan, 1914

Literature

Ulwa Neergaard, Carl Larsson Signerat med pensel och penna, Stockholm, 1999, vol. II, p. 123, no. 1333, catalogued; vol. I, p. 436, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Shortly after the final flourish had been added, Larsson included an illustration of the present work in his publication of 1910, Åt solsidan. Translated as ‘On the Sunny Side’, the book was decorated with vignettes, reproductions and anecdotes from the artist promoting the idyllic rural existence he shared with his family at their house Lilla Hyttnäs in Sundborn, just visible through the foliage beyond the far bank of the river (fig. 1).

‘Lilla Hyttnäs was a whole way of life, informal and family centred. For this the Larssons consciously created a middle-class town-dweller idyll of the healthy country life: they took up a number of local customs, like boating and crayfishing […] the Larssons’ vision of summer came to be adopted by the whole of Sweden’ (Michael Snodin, Carl and Karin Larsson, Creators of the Swedish Style, London, 1997, p. 3). Seated on the long jetty that stretched all the way from the gardens of Lilla Hyttnäs far out onto the Sundborn River, Larsson relished the chance to paint his fourth child, Lisbeth born in 1891, who was only recently returned from a six month sojourn in England.

A picture brimming with simplicity, charm and childish delight, Larsson reminisced in Åt solsidan, ‘Here we see Lisbeth, just back from England, dressed up in a new tailor-sleeved dress and a horrible hat. She is sitting in my leaky old boat and is pretending to fish. Do not be fooled, it is not taken straight from nature, she is merely modelling. I was seated on the jetty, the afternoon sun was comfortable and warm – and I was so heartily glad to have my little girl back home again.’ Compared with the closed rear view of Lisbeth painted by Larsson on the eve of her trip to England (fig. 2), the bright colours and openness of the present work reveal the full extent of Larsson's pleasure to have his family complete again.

While in England Lisbeth had been staying with her Aunt Stina and Uncle Frank Bather to study English. Both were supporters of the Suffragettes who were fighting for the women’s right to vote. The colours of the Movement were purple and green and Lisbeth, who had inherited her mother Karin’s love of fabrics, colours and themes, insisted her outfits be made up of these colours. In reply to one of Lisbeth’s letters from abroad on 15 July 1909, Larsson declared, ‘My dear child. Certainly! Let her make you such a dress. But is it not too tailored for such a small and real woman as yourself? But if Stina looked like a poem, I hope you will too…’ (cited in Neergaard, vol. II, p. 123). Although Lisbeth may be 18 and establishing her independence, in her father's eyes she will always be his 'little girl'.

The crayfish cage hanging on the edge of the jetty suggests the month to be August. The cool crisp curves of the boat are reflected in the mirror-like surface of the river that barely evinces a ripple. The cropped composition, raised viewpoint, play of lines and contours, and the boldly demarcated areas of colour recall Larsson’s debt to Japanese woodcuts. Acknowledging this influence in his work, Larsson wrote, ‘…for, as an artist, Japan is my true home. The Japanese are at present the only genuine artists on earth. Here in Europe art is somewhat affected, forced and snobbish; in Japan the feeling for art is general and lends a tasteful edge to everything the people do, however insignificant’ (Carl Larsson, Carl Larsson skildrad av honom själv, Stockholm, 1952, pp. 100-1).

FIG. 1, Photograph of Lilla Hyttnäs across the river    --- digi ref 675D06101

FIG. 2, Carl Larsson, On the Eve of the Trip to England, 1909, Private Collection  ------ digi ref 676D06101

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