The Four Seasons

How to depict spring light trickling through tender foliage? How many different colours can snow be? Join us through the ever changing seasons, featuring works by fin de siècle Swedish artists: Hanna Pauli, Richard Berg, Gustav Fjæstad and many others.

Images: Midummer dance, Anders Zorn. Breakfast time, Hanna Pauli,  Autumn, Helmer Osslund, Winter Moonlight, Gustav Fjaestad. The images are cropped.

Midummer dance, Anders Zorn. Breakfast time, Hanna Pauli,  Autumn, Helmer Osslund, Winter Moonlight, Gustav Fjaestad. The images are cropped.

21 June 2011 – 27 May 2012

The Four Seasons takes you on a journey through the changing seasons and through Swedish art history of the fin de siècle period. The exhibition features around 80 paintings, sculptures and decorative artifacts from Nationalmuseum’s collections, all of them related to the seasons.

The seasons were a common theme in Scandinavian art at the end of the 19th century. Artists and writers drew their motifs from the changing face of nature and from folk traditions surrounding holidays such as Christmas and Midsummer.

Naturalistic observation

In depicting the seasons, fin de siècle painters adopted various approaches. One was precise, scientifically accurate, naturalistic observation, a technique perfected in the 1880s by artists such as Bruno Liljefors and Anders Zorn.

Light and colour

The second approach involved a broader depiction of Scandinavian light and colour conditions, a more atmospheric type of painting in which details were blurred out. Long spring and summer evenings with low light appear in many well-known paintings by Richard Bergh, Karl Nordström, Anshelm Schulzberg, Julia Beck and Prince Eugen.

Light evenings as artistic motif

The light evenings were, in their way, an innovative artistic motif – one that couldn’t really be studied anywhere other than Scandinavia. The winter night, illuminated by the reflective snow, is likewise a specifically Scandinavian motif.

In Sweden, Gustaf Fjæstad and his fellow members of the Rackstad group in particular developed winter motifs in their works.

Imge: Vases  and bowls in overlay glass, Gunnar G:son Wennerberg.
Vases and bowls in overlay glass, Gunnar G:son Wennerberg. 

National identity

Reproducing the distinctive features of the different seasons in images was not only an artistic challenge but also part of forging a national identity. The Scandinavian climate emphasizes the differences between the seasons. The cold winter, the long spring and the light summer evenings came to epitomize something that could be called typically Swedish.

Guided tours

The exhibition is included in the guided tours of the exhibitions and collections during July and August. Tuesdays at 1 am in english, Thursdays at 1 am in Swedisb. NB! No guided tours 2–5 August.



Nationalmuseum Design
@ Kulturhuset Stadsteatern
Sergels torg, Stockholm 

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