The exhibition opens 16 Juni
Jonas Carl Linnerhielm (1758–1829) has, in his images and travel writings, captured the Sweden of Gustav III, its countryside, lakes, ironworks, manor houses and their parks – nothing escaped his eye. He has been called the first Swedish tourist, but instead of the modern-day traveller’s camera he took with him pencils, watercolour brushes and sketchbooks. The exhibition presents a selection of his works.
Linnerhielm was a traveller who was filled with the 18th century’s new feeling for nature. He was one of the first in Sweden to undertake a voyage pittoresque – a journey in search of views that appealed to the eye and the emotions. From 1787 on, he spent his summers touring the country – from Skåne in the south to Älvdalen in Dalarna – to experience nature and demonstrate the beauty of his native land.
Linnerhielm was a civil servant, closely connected with the leading cultural figures of the Gustavian Age. He was influenced by the Martin brothers – the painter Elias and the engraver Johan Fredrik. They introduced an early form of open-air painting, recording in watercolours the natural scenery of Sweden and its shifting moods. Linnerhielm’s watercolour paintings also
Linnerhielm published three illustrated accounts of his travels, the first of them in 1797. His narrative style reflects a predilection for the picturesque and the emotional. In keeping with the view of nature of his day, he describes in letter form the beauty of the Swedish landscape, records the fluctuations of the weather, and expresses awe at the natural forces of waterfalls. As a writer, he was inspired by sentimental portrayers of nature of the period, like the Englishman William Gilpin and the Swiss painter-poet Salomon Gessner. As well as his three travelogues, Linnerhielm also published in 1797 a separate collection of engravings entitled Swedish Views.