New acquisitions: Works by female artists active in France during the 1880s

By on June 29, 2019

Nationalmuseum has acquired four works by Elisabeth Keyser, Ingeborg Westfelt-Eggertz, Jenny Nyström and Gerda Tirén. They were all Swedish, female artists who lived in France during the 1880s, an intense period of change in Swedish art.

After French role models, they began to paint motifs from everyday life and thus laid the foundation for a modern Swedish art that today belongs to the most beloved in our art history with names such as Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn. With the acquisitions, several significant female artists can be added to these names.

– We are extremely happy to have succeeded in making these acquisitions. Three of them are a generous donation by Ann Stern. Works by female artists are at the forefront of our wish list and we have a long-term ambition to be able to give a fairer picture of what the art scene looked like during the late 19th century. History writing should never be considered definitive and the art history that was written during the 20th century is now changing by looking at how it actually looked. The female artists were many and they appeared, but one can rarely understand the art history overview of the 20th century, says Carl-Johan Olsson, curator of the National Museum.

In the late 1800s Paris, young Swedish artists experienced a greater freedom of choice than at home. Here they could study at smaller, private academies where they had to start painting in oil directly without first practicing drawing for many years. In addition, the prospects of exhibiting their work were better.

Each year, a large art exhibition was arranged, which was called the Salon. Here, artists could search with their jobs and, if adopted, meant the best possible exposure for the thousands of visitors who came there. All four artists whose work Nationalmuseum has now acquired were successful in being admitted to the Salon.

Elisabeth Keyser traveled to Paris in 1878 and studied for, among others, Léon Bonnat, one of France’s largest portrait painters at the time.

Even Keyser was to become a successful portrait painter, but in France she mainly devoted herself to painting folk motives in the spirit of so-called naturalism.

Her “A Confirmation from Normandy” is a good example of how some motifs became fashion. In 1875, the Frenchman Jules Bastien-Lepage, who was the idol of many Swedish artists, painted a confirmation man and by Keyser’s painting to judge, the subject was still in 1889.

Ingeborg Westfelt-Eggertz stayed in France while Elisabeth Keyser and they became friends.

The small painting with the motif of the gate to a guest house in Meudon was a gift from Westfelt-Eggertz to Keyser and it is close to hand that it was like a memory from a place where they both lived.

Meudon is located just outside Paris and attracted many Nordic artists.

Both Elisabeth Keysers and Ingeborg Westfelt-Eggertz paintings can be seen in the exhibition From dawn to dusk which is shown at Nationalmuseum Jamtli in Östersund.

Of a similar informal character is Jenny Nyström’s watercolor from Paris.

Strangely enough, snapshots from the city space in Paris are performed by the Swedish artists who traveled there to get.

Nyström painted the watercolor in 1884, the same year she showed her famous self-portrait at the annual Salon in Paris.

The fourth new acquisition is a sensitive study by Gerda Tirén, who represents a mother with a child in her arms.

The painting is a very good example of how Swedish artists both managed to capture the emotional expression while at the same time skillfully acquiring a new painting technique abroad. The brush movement for the thoughts of some paintings by John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn, who actually did not start painting in oil until 1887, three years later.

Nationalmuseum has no government funds to acquire design, arts and crafts, but the collections are enriched by gifts and private foundation and funds. The acquisitions have been made possible by a generous donation by Ann Stern and contributions from Magda and Max Ettler’s donation funds.

Culture | New acquisitions: Works by female artists active in France during the 1880s