A palace building, a theatre king and skilled diplomats: vital ingredients in the flourishing cultural life of the 18th century. Meet the artists who brought the Rococo style to Sweden, and those who left the country for brilliant careers at the royal courts on the continent.
The new exhibition, which opens at the Nationalmuseum Jamtli on 18 June, focuses on the relations between Sweden and Europe during the 18th century in the field of visual arts and applied arts. It will take you through a century not only marked by wars and severe hardships, but also of optimism for the future, utilitarian thinking, and a belief in science where art was closely related to politics and diplomacy.
Among the many things one will become acquainted with at the exhibition is the new ideas and artists who came to Sweden from France to participate in the construction of the new Royal Palace of Stockholm at the beginning of the century. We will also look more closely at the direct impact Gustav III of Sweden had on culture in the latter part of the century.
At the same time as the French came to Sweden, the Swedes travelled to Europe. Several artists made careers as court painters. In addition to artistic talents, social talent and business acumen contributed to attaining positions at the top tier of society. The brightest star was Alexander Roslin, who, after just over a year in Paris (1753), was elected a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. On the home front, artist Pehr Hilleström portrayed everyday scenes from industrial environments as well as kitchens and parlours.
Alexander Roslin, Madame Deshanges, 1753. Photo: Nationalmuseum
Jean Souet’s workshop, Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins. Tapestry, “October”, 1712–1714. Photo: Linn Ahlgren/Nationalmuseum.
Pehr Hilleström the elder, In the Anchor-Forge at Söderfors. The Smiths Hard at Work. Photo: Nationalmuseum.
Carl Fredrik von Breda, King Gustav III of Sweden, sketch, 1787. Photo: Nationalmuseum.
Louis Jean Desprez, The storming of Tre Kronor Palace, scene from the opera Gustav Vasa, 1786. Photo: Nationalmuseum.
Johan Tobias Sergel, King Gustav III in the morning, when he comes to my studio. Photo: Nationalmuseum.
Pehr Zethelius, Sugar box, 1799. Photo: Olle Andersson/Nationalmuseum.
Elias Martin, English Landscape from Mistley Hall, Essex, Essex, 1772. Photo: Nationalmuseum
The exhibition takes up themes such as war and diplomacy, trade and science, the birth of rococo, Gustav III’s time in Italy, neoclassicism and English influences. We meet artists such as Alexander Roslin, Johan Tobias Sergel, Carl Hårleman, Louis Jean Desprez, Angelika Kauffmann, Carl August Ehrensvärd, Pehr Hilleström, Elias Martin and Carl Fredrik von Breda.
Some 180 works from Nationalmuseum’s collection of Swedish and French 18th century art are on display: portraits, landscapes and still life paintings, everyday interior paintings, plus drawings, unique sketches and blueprints, which have never previously been exhibited. In addition, porcelain and faience, goldsmith’s art as well as furniture and other handicraft items are included in the exhibition.
The exhibition opens at Nationalmuseum Jamtli in Östersund on 19 May and will continue until spring 2021.
Nationalmuseum Jamtli opened in June 2018 and is an arena for art and design experiences in Östersund. It offers a combination of Jamtli’s award-winning educational approach and Nationalmuseum’s unique collections and knowledge.