Karin Larsson's father had originally purchased Lilla Hyttnäs in 1875 for his widowed mother and her two sisters, Ulla and Maria. When Ulla died in 1888 Maria moved out, Karin's father gave the property to his daughter and son-in-law. But when Karin and Carl took on the property as their summer residence they found little to recommend it beyond the site itself, and the possibilities inherent in the house. It was perched on what Carl called a slag heap, and was accompanied by a couple of lilac bushes, some birch trees and a potato patch.
Despite this, the Larssons started making changes and additions. In 1890 Larsson added a first studio on to the house, financed in part by a bequest from Karin's father who had died earlier that year. A porch was also added to the main entrance. Then in 1899 the new and significantly larger free standing studio was built, the old studio becoming the workshop, where Karin set up her weaving looms and which on occasion was also used for entertaining. Until 1901 the Larssons used the house just during the warm summer months and for Christmas, but that year connecting rooms were constructed between the old cottage and the new studio to enable the family to live at Lilla Hyttnäs all year round (fig. 1).
The recording of the improvements to Lilla Hyttnäs became a central theme in Larsson's work, and one that through his watercolours, illustrated books and writings brought him considerable financial success. Certainly, by the time the present work was painted, the Larssons had created an idyll of domestic harmony that has since come to represent Swedish style the world over.
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