Lot 67
  • 67

Carl Larsson

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • Carl Larsson
  • Spegelbild med Brita (mirror-image with Brita)
  • inscribed, dated and signed Jag sjelf och lilla Brita / Febr 1895 / målat på beställninng / Carl Larsson on the reverse; titled, inscribed BRITA and with the monogram on the artist's frame  
  • watercolour on paper
  • 46 by 32cm., 18¼ by 12½in.; 76 by 53.5cm., 30 by 21in (including the artist's frame)


Carl Robert Lamm, Näsby Slott (commissioned from the artist; inventor, industrialist and collector, Lamm was Larsson's most important patron of the day whose own portrait and those of his wife and sons Larsson also painted)
Dr Emil Hultmark, Stockholm (purchased circa 1930;  Hultmark put together one of the most extensive and important private art collections in Swedish hands. For further biographical information see lot 66.)
Thence by descent to the present owner, granddaughter of the above


Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Carl Larsson Memorial Exhibition, 1920, no. 112
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Carl Larsson – 100 years. 1953, no. 174
Modum, Blaafarveværket, Sommaren med Carl Larsson, 1989, no. 31
Århus, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Julen med Carl Larsson, 1989. n.n.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum and Gothenburg, Konstmuseum, Carl Larsson, 1992, no. 158


Carl Larsson, Larssons, 1902, illustrated
Harriet and Sven Alfons, Carl Larsson, Stockholm, 1977
Ulwa Neergaard, Carl Larsson. Signerat med Pensel och Penna, Stockholm, 1999, vol. I, p. 184, illustrated in colour; vol II, no. 644, catalogued




Unexamined out of frame and under glass, the sheet is in very good condition, and mounted on a stretcher. Apart from some light time-staining, notably at the lower edge of the floor and the screen on the right side, this work is in very good condition. Held in the artist's carved and inscribed (with gold, gessoed script) wood frame, under glass.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Dressed not in his painter's smock but in pinstriped trousers, jacket, wing collar and tie, Larsson appears in the present work in a relaxed and jocular mood. With a paternal twinkle in his eye he holds his fifth child Brita on his knee and steadies a stretcher on his thigh as he captures the informal scene of domestic happiness that is reflected in a mirror before him.

Sitting in the studio at Lilla Hyttnäs, the Larsson's summer house at Sundborn in the middle of Sweden, but blithely ignoring the  paraphernalia that tilts and crowds around them, father and daughter focus intently on the matter in hand - the execution of their double portrait. The effect is the creation of a world within a world and the realisation for the viewer that the image that we are in fact looking at is the painting propped on Larsson's knee. 

Elsewhere in the room jostle elements of Larsson's personal and professional life. Hanging on the wall in the background is his portrait of his second son Pontus painted in 1890; below it the family's distinctive chinoiserie screen decorated with birds; nestling on ledges and displayed on the side table are ornaments and accoutrements that recurr again and again in his compositions: the blue and white flower vase half obscured behind the struts of the easel to the left, and the Delft plate above the folding screen on the right. Punch and Judy-like in pose, the semi-burlesque miniature figures to either side of the composition offer a rye tongue-in-cheek allusion to the alter-egos of he and his wife Karin, while the two enormous canvas-covered 'flats' running down the right side of the picture suggest his professional pre-occupation of the day: his work on the huge mural designs for the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

Brita appears with Larsson in only a handful of other self-portraits, all executed in the mid-1890s. These include two watercolours, two drawings and an etching. Only one, however, is of comparable quality: Brita and I painted in the same year as the present work and now in the Konstmuseum, Gothenburg (fig. 1).

The frame for the present work was designed specifically for the picture by Larsson and very likely made by carpenter Hans Arnbom. Arnbom, the village handyman, was the most important of a number of local craftsmen who helped the Larssons realise their ideal at Lilla Hyttnäs, extending and renovating the property, making furniture to Karin Larsson's designs, and constructing Carl's distinctive hand carved frames.

fig. 1, Carl Larsson, Brita and I, Konstmuseum Gothenburg