Bror Lindh (1877-1941)
Lumières du Nord
Selling Exhibition: 2–11 April 2024 • Paris


B ror Lindh was born in 1877 in Frykerud, Värmland, a parish in the midwestern part of Sweden. As the son of the artist and painter Carl Johan Lindh, the artistic profession ran in Bror Lindh’s family. Carl Johan Lindh worked as a decorative painter and would let his son assist him. Thus, Lindh was initially introduced to the decorative arts. Lindh would encounter the fine arts as he met the painter Gustaf Fjæstad (1868-1948), who at the end of the 19th century temporarily rented sculptor Christian Eriksson’s cottage in Oppstuhage, just outside of Arvika, Värmland. Fjæstad took on Lindh as his student and acted like a mentor to him, encouraging Lindh to pursue an artistic career like himself.

On Fjæstad’s recommendation, Lindh sent his portfolio to the artist Richard Bergh (1858-1919) at the end of the 19th century. Bergh, who at the time was the director of the Artists’ Association’s school, appreciated Lindh’s simple landscape drawings depicting sceneries from Värmland. Bror Lindh was subsequently admitted to the art school, which he attended in 1899–1901. The Artists’ Association’s school was a modern alternative to the more traditional art studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. Inspired by the contemporary ateliers of Bonnant and Julian in Paris, as well as the ateliers led by Krøyer and Zahrtmann in Copenhagen, the art school aimed to provide an independent, informal, and inexpensive art education, free from hierarchy between students and teachers. Photographs from Lindh’s student days show how the artist along with his fellow students had a close relationship with their teacher Richard Bergh, and that they were taught in small, mixed groups with access to nude models. While attending art school in Stockholm, Lindh shared an apartment with his fellow student Hilding Werner (1880-1944), whom he had been in school with in Värmland. Of his fellow students, Lindh became especially close friends with John Ekman, Else Kleen, Helmer Osslund and Tore Wahlström.

Upon completing his studies at the Artists’ Association’s school in 1901, Bror Lindh returned to his childhood home in Fagerås, Frykerud parish. Gustaf and Maja Fjæstad, Björn Ahlgrensson, and Fritz Lindström were other artists who also would choose Värmland as the main subject of their works in the beginning of the 20th century. This group of artist friends has come to be known as the Rackstad Colony, as they all permanently settled around lake Racken north of Arvika, Värmland. Living in the countryside of Värmland was challenging at this time, since access to communication, transportation and trade was limited. Bror Lindh and his friend, writer, and journalist Walter Hülphers, lived a reclusive life at lake Agvattnet, east of Rackenbut their health was compromised due to severe weather conditions and poor diet. Eventually, the two men returned to civilization and joined the other artists around Racken. Lindh resumed his contact with Fjæstad as he moved in with the artist’s family in Oppstuhage, where he stayed from 1906–1908.

1903 marked the beginning of Bror Lindh’s exhibition career. Lindh participated in three group shows with the Artists’ Association that year, having received a special invitation from the association as a non-member. In addition to the exhibitions in Helsingborg and Gothenburg, Lindh participated in the association’s exhibit in Copenhagen, marking his international debut. All of the artist’s exhibited works this year depicted winter landscapes, launching him as an artist specialized in winter themes. Bror Lindh continued to exhibit with the Artists’ Association as their invited guest for the next two years. The artist received official recognition at the spring exhibition arranged by the Swedish Association for Art in 1906, when the important patron Ernest Thiel bought his painting Clouds, which is still part of the Thielska Gallery’s collection. In the first decade of the 20th century, most of Lindh’s exhibited works depict milieus of Värmland during the four seasons. However, in the following decade Lindh added northern Swedish landscapes to his artistic repertoire, which he had in common with his artist friend Björn Ahlgrensson. The 1910’s would also mark the height of his international exhibition career. For instance, Lindh participated in the Centennial International Exhibition in Buenos Aires (1910), the International Exhibition of Art in Rome (1911), the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Fransisco (1915) and in Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in Berlin (1916).

Even though the artist participated in several international exhibitions, his native place seems to have meant the most to him. Elected secretary in the newly established Värmland Artists’ Association in 1919, Bror Lindh thus became involved in the local art scene. The main goal of the association was to enhance the local artistic scene by arranging exhibitions in the region. Lindh’s involvement in the association coincided with the turning point in his exhibition career. For about ten years, the artist paused his participation in exhibitions. However, Lindh made his exhibition comeback at the group exhibition with the Värmland Artists’ Association in Karlstad in 1927. Five years later, Bror Lindh would exhibit at the Värmlands Museum in Karlstad, the final exhibition of his career. The retrospective exhibition of his artistry in spring 1933 was his first solo show and consisted of 45 artworks, including oil paintings, drawings, and etchings. Not only did the exhibition display Lindh’s landscapes, also friendship images of fellow artists Gustaf Fjæstad and Per Tellander were included, as well as figure studies. The retrospective exhibition of Bror Lindh’s artistry received positive reviews in the local press. Bror Lindh would once again choose a reclused life, as he lived his final years alone in a cottage in Grånäs, just north of Karlstad. In 1941, at the age of 54, Bror Lindh passed away.

Bror Lindh’s aesthetics is characterized by depictions of local surroundings and of his close friends. It is rather a rule than exception that his artworks are undated. In the reviews of Lindh’s retrospective exhibition, critics would comment that his later production is characterized by bright colors in comparison with his earlier works. Exhibition catalogues from 1903–1933 report that Lindh mainly exhibited landscape sceneries from Värmland and northern Sweden, for instance Kiruna and Jämtland. Based on the exhibition catalogues, the paintings depicting milieus from Kiruna and Jämtland are likely dated from 1910–1917. Lindh’s technique and choice of motifs are similar to many of the other artist at Racken, where the influences from Fjæstad are especially evident. However, Bror Lindh’s artistic style is not as photo realistic as that of Fjæstad and seems to have affinities with Stefan Johansson’s thinly painted watercolours on linen. A possible reason for Lindh’s even and thin use of oil paint is that he was forced to use his material economically, due to his difficult financial situation. In his smooth and sensitive use of paint, Lindh demonstrates his mastery of colour. Furthermore, this artistic sensibility is favorable since the characteristics of the Nordic light in the various four seasons are central in Lindh’s artworks. This artistic trait of Bror Lindh gave his artworks an air of Synthetism and enhanced the mystical aesthetic in his depiction of the Swedish landscape.

Astrid Olsson

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Location:
76, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré – 75008 Paris, France

Hours:
Monday to Friday | 10:00 AM–6:00 PM

Contact:
Côme Rombout
Specialist
Old Master Paintings & 19th Century Paintings
T: +33 1 53 05 53 84
come.rombout@sothebys.com


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