New acquisitions: A sculptured portrait

By on October 21, 2016

National Museum has acquired a sculpted portrait in terracotta performed by Ida Matton 1895. The bust shows a young woman in period dress with high collar and puff sleeves. The head’s light movement, the model’s casual style and the gaze slightly dreamy expression conveys the sense of a fleeting snapshot. The portrait shows both test of expressive naturalism and illusionism, which closely followed the contemporary French sculpture.

Ida Matton (1863-1940) was born in Gävle 1863. The family ran a leather factory and was influential in the city’s business and social life. There was thus economic conditions to education and Matton moved early to Stockholm to become a crafts teacher. She studied first at Wallinska school and then continued at the Technical School 1882-86, to become a sculptor, or “sculptress” as the contemporary name was called for female sculptors. The late 1800s were a golden age for sculpture. Demand for sculpture rose sharply, partly due to the emergence of a new art market and the emerging urban needs of the public decoration on the streets. It was no longer just great men’s memory that would be consumed with statues. The growing bourgeoisie also wanted to decorate their homes with sculptures and decorative arts. At the same time, it became the art world increasingly common with female artists, so even in Sweden, and many of these women are trained as sculptors.
Like their painting sisters traveled several Swedish “sculptors” to the continent to deepen the studies, especially in Paris. So did Matton, only twenty-four years old. She was one of many Scandinavians who studied at the Académie Colarossi, where women also had the opportunity to subscribe for a nude model, a cornerstone of the artistic education. Matton soon wrote to her brother in Sweden: “Now you may believe that the work is in full swing and the one who enjoying it’s me. If you knew how much I already had time to learn. Every time I think of the old Technical so it grieves me … “. In Paris, came she and her colleagues sculptor in contact with a new, freer idiom and they had the opportunity to practice the profession in a way they had not had in Sweden. They also had the opportunity to exhibit their work. Already the year after her arrival Matton debuted at the Salon in Paris, and her sculptures came to be praised for this annual exhibition.
Matton was, like many of her colleagues, come to rest almost her entire life in Paris. She was very committed to improving the opportunities for female artists to exhibit and promote the same conditions as the male professional colleagues. Matton also had an extensive network of close female friends. Back home in Sweden, she had, however difficult to break through and get an artistic recognition. This was perhaps because her work is characterized by a kind of academic salon style, which did not fit the passage of new trends.
In this new acquisition meets the viewer instead an unusually fresh and immediate portrait of a young woman. Her hand fingers on a lock of hair, which is loosely connected by a tassel at the neck, and forehead is covered with a short hair cut disheveled bangs. The mouth suggests a smile. The model’s unconventional stance and gaze slightly dreamy expression conveys the sense of a fleeting snapshot. The bust terminated at shoulder height of a decorative border, suggesting a base. At the same time, here is a play with the illusionist since the model’s hand sticking out of the socket edge. In early works, as in this portrait, you can see clear traces of the French tradition with names like Jean-Antoine Houdon and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, based on technical virtuosity and far-reaching illusionism. At the end of the century did the new trends themselves felt in Paris with sculptors Jules Dalou and Auguste Rodin. The idiom was now even more casual design language and a desire to express feelings. Although this is evident in Matton’s bust, which probably represents some of her close circle of friends. The acquisition has been made possible by Axel Hirsch donations. Nationalmuseum has no own funds to purchase art and crafts for instead collections is enriched by donations and private foundations and funds.
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