Lot 358
  • 358

Carl Larsson Swedish 1853-1919

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  • Carl Larsson
  • Syskon (Siblings)

  • signed with monogram and dated C.L. / 1911 l.r.
  • watercolour, gouache and charcoal on paper

  • 69 by 103cm., 27¼ by 40½in.


Sale: Bukowski's, Stockholm, 30 October 1979, lot 250
Purchased at the above sale by the present owners


Julrosor, 1912, illustrated
Carl Larsson, De mina och annat gammalt krafs, Stockholm, 1919, illustrated in colour
Görel Cavalli-Björkman and Bo Lindwall, The World of Carl Larsson, La Jolla, 1982, p. 152, illustrated in colour
Ulwa Neegaard, Carl Larsson: signerat med pensel och penna, Stockholm, 1999, vol. I, p. 476, no. 1431, illustrated in colour; vol. II, pp. 134-5, no. 1431, catalogued

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1911.

The Larssons's idyllic home Lilla Hyttnäs ('little furnace point') at Sundborn provided the backdrop for many of Carl Larsson's best-loved works. Here the artist's fourth child, Lisbeth poses with her younger brother Esbjörn in the sitting room of the house that, by virtue of its sophisticated domestic simplicity, had raised Larsson to the status of a national institution. Conforming to his view that a private home and its furnishings could be viewed as an integral artistic expression, Larsson published a number of books illustrated with portraits of his family and home. The present work was included in Larsson's book De mina och annat gammalt krafs (My Loved Ones and other old scrawls), published in 1919, and the year after its execution in the Christmas magazine Julrosor for which Larsson provided a teasing explanation of the painting:

'The editors at Julrosor asked me to write down a few lines about my little painting 'Syskon'. Why, yes of course, I answered happily and freely; but as I am now actually in the process of writing this I ask myself - is the painting so difficult to understand that you need a translation alongside? Maybe, I will not say no. As you can see - at least I hope so - there is a flowering cactus, two children (one is supposed to be a boy, the other a girl), some chairs and a table.

The event is taking place in the so called hallway. At first the only living thing there was the cactus and the other flowers in the window. Then I came along dragging a piece of watercolour paper, because I had now decided that I was going to paint something, any old thing. Then I was blinded by the colour and shine of the cactus and began to draw it on my paper. Then Lisbeth came along to show me a hat she had made herself from old bits of straw. Just as she was requested to sit down in the chair and look happy, Esbjörn came in and in order to give some contrast to the painting - he was asked to look angry - but I needn't have bothered asking, since he had the right face to start: he was angry. He had something else completely on his mind, he was looking for his carving-knife that he needed in order to complete a kite which he was making to surprise the Sundborn boys with.

And so I made a painting. How it turned out I don't know, but to be certain - it amuses me immensely to paint whatever is before me, but mostly flowers and my children. It amuses me indeed, but it does not come without pain and hard work, since I sincerely look to find the purity of the lines and style of colours and the inner truth that only my eye can see, reality filtered through myself, through my temperament. Yes indeed, I mean to be more serious than most people think. As I paint my little picture there is nothing else in the universe of interest to me. And when it is done then... it is immediately of no great importance to me, I don't care about it, am tired one day, sad of it the next and then on the third day I find myself in front of a new flower and maybe even the same children with the same gushing ardour and intensity as before...

Then these old pieces of paper are thrown from one exhibition to the next, sometimes sold and I have no idea where they end up. For this reason, it amuses me greatly to see them reproduced in magazines and books. But whether it amuses everyone else... well what do you say?' (quoted in Ulwa Neegaard, Carl Larsson: signerat med pensel och penna, Stockholm, 1999, vol. II, p. 135)