In the exhibition Carl Larsson, Sweden’s most beloved Painter, the Petit Palais presents, for the first time in France, the work of this great figure of turn of the 19th century Swedish art. A hundred or so works are displayed: watercolours, oil paintings, prints, and items of furniture. Visitors find themselves immersed in scenes of peaceful family life and gentle countryside that have become emblematic of the Swedish way of life.
Exceptional loans from the Nationalmuseum, Stoc¬kholm, and the Sundborn Museum contribute to an overview of the different facets of Carl Larsson’s artistic production, which included oils, watercolours and murals. But it was his work as an illustrator that brought him international fame during his lifetime, a fame that has continued unabated to this day.
Larsson, however, had started out with very different ambitions. He spent several years at the beginning of his career, in Paris and at Grez-sur-Loing, in search of a recognition which his paintings, for the most part landscapes, did not bring; competition in Paris was ruthless in this field, even though his work was commented on favourably in several salons.
He returned to Sweden in 1889 and was invited to create some monumental decorative projects, including the magnificent décor for the staircase of the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.
This important work is conjured up in the exhibition through drawings and preparatory sketches of great brilliance.
Fame eventually came to Larsson in a hitherto ignored register: descriptions of family life in the colourful atmosphere of his house in Sundborn, a village in the Swedish countryside. His album, Our House, and its sequels, which sold in great quantities, became the inspiration for young Swedish couples setting up home. They made him the standard-bearer of a nation that was proud of the comfort of its homes and its humanist values. Those watercolours still remain a great influence on the various trends of Swedish interior design. But the pictures are fascinating also for their very modern composition, an aspect that sets them totally apart from the work of his contemporaries and that of later painters. The Petit Palais is particularly delighted to be presenting all the charm and power of Larsson’s exceptional graphic inventiveness.
Torsten Gunnarsson, scientific adviser to the Carl Larsson museum (Sundborn)
Christophe Leribault, Director of the Petit Palais;
Carl-Johan Olsson, Curator at the Nationalmuseum
Organised with the kind co-operation of the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.