National Museum acquires sculpture

By on January 20, 2018
Linn Ahlgren/Nationalmuseum

National Museum has acquired a work done by the Swedish sculptor Agnes de Frumerie (1869-1937) in collaboration with the French ceramist Edmond Lachenal (1855-1948). The sculpture, a close meter-high relief in glazed stoneware, represents a group of people in an arcuate opening. The title of the work is, according to older sources, La Source d’Or, and has been called Kampen för tillvaron in Swedish, which seems to be aimed at an apparently meaningless struggle for existence and pursuit of wealth, where only the strongest survives.

The depicted people in the foreground of the sculpture seem to give up, embraces and support each other. In the background sees a conglomeration of people, who seems to reach against a rain that falls down from heaven. The sculpture is on the lower edge signed “Agnes de Frumerie 1900” and on the back “E. LACHENAL Céramiste à Châtillon Seine 1900”.

Agnes Kjellberg was born in Skövde in 1869. Only 14 years old, she moved to Stockholm to study at the Technical School to become a teacher. In 1886 she was admitted to the Academy Academy. After several medals and a long stay in Berlin, as one of the first women in 1892, she won the big travel scholarship and installed in Paris with her mother. Soon she married the artillery captain, the masseur, and then the medical doctor Gustaf Frumerie, and they would stay in Paris for 30 years. During the 1890’s socialized the couple de Frumerie with the Swedish Art Deco in Paris: Strindberg, the couple Ericson-Molard, Christian Eriksson, to name a few. In the artistic world, Agnes de Frumerie was in the middle of Paris’s art scene.

During the scholarships she reported everything in a letter to the Royal Academy in Stockholm. From 1893 Frumerie exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français and from 1895 also at the new Salon National des Beaux Arts Salon at the Champs de Mars. In addition, she collaborated with the French ceramist Edmond Lachenal in 1897-1908, and exhibited several exhibitions at Galerie Georges Petit. Agnes de Frumerie was also particularly involved in the association of female artists Union des Femmes Peintres et Sculpteurs, founded in 1881, and regularly exhibited there from 1895.

Rodin’s influence

It was long believed that Agnes de Frumerie studied under Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). That was not the case, but Frumerie got the advice of Rodin to work independently. But she was one of the Swedish sculptors who was most influenced by the French master. She soon realized how innovative Rodin was and called him “today’s Michel-Angelo”. In her statues, de Frumerie was close to Camille Claudel (1864-1943) who even accused de Frumerie of plagiarism.

The impact of Rodin is also clearly visible in this relief. Just like in Rodin’s Helvetesporten, the general composition consists of a whirlwind of human bodies in high and low relief. The focus is on creating a mood and conveying a feeling, which the facial expressions, gestures and glances contribute to. The ambition of sculptors to create monumental works around large, universal subjects was in time.

Typical for the time was also the experimentation with various techniques in the arts industry. Edmond Lachenal developed the technology of glazed stoneware in different colors, “email mat velouté”, in the 1890s and collaborated with various sculptors, of which Agnes de Frumerie was one of the most important. This work by Frumerie and Lachenal was presented at the exhibition of the Union of Femmes peintres a sculpter and in Galerie Georges Petit in 1900. The model of the sculpture is located at Västergötland’s museum in Skara.

About the acquisition

The acquisitions have been made possible through a generous contribution from Hedda and N.D. Qvists memorial fund. Nationalmuseum has no government funds to acquire artisan art and art without the collections enriched by gifts and private foundation and funds.

Helena Olofsson, Culture & Music | Stockholm