Carl Larsson – More than Swedish charm

Flowers on the Windowsill (1894)

Flowers on the Windowsill (1894)

Nige appraises Swedish artist Carl Larsson, who along with his wife Karin virtually invented the ‘Ikea’ style…

Born on this day in 1853 was the Swedish painter Carl Larsson. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this supreme master of the blissful, love-infused domestic interior (and exterior) and celebrator of the joys of family living had a wretched start in life.

He was born into poverty and lived his early years in squalor, thanks largely to his drunken, emotionally incontinent father, who rejected Carl with the words ‘I curse the day you were born’. Amazingly, the young Carl was rescued by a teacher at his ragged school who spotted his talent and urged him to enrol in the art school of the Swedish Royal Academy of Art. He took a while to find his feet, but once he had married his beloved Karin, switched from oils to watercolours and found his theme, he never looked back. Larsson and Karin between them virtually created the ‘Swedish style’ that ultimately conquered the world under the dread name of Ikea.

carl and karin larsson

Carl’s paintings have never lost their popularity, but there is more to them than their obvious and immediate charm. Larsson is a deft colorist and a formidable draughtsman, with an astonishingly sure line, and his composition and framing are often extraordinarily bold and original. His pictures remain fresh and even arresting, offering something much more interesting than a mere celebration of cosy gemutlichkeit.

Lisbeth at the Birch (1910)

Lisbeth at the Birch (1910)


Brita, a Cat and a Sandwich

Carl Esbjorn Doing His Homework

Carl Esbjorn Doing His Homework


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About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

2 thoughts on “Carl Larsson – More than Swedish charm

    May 29, 2015 at 00:13

    Witold Rybczynski gives the Larssons and their house Lilla Hyttnas (the hut on a point) a few pages, and a good deal of praise in his The Most Beautiful House in the World. He remarks that Karin Larsson largely supervised the expansion of the house from a three-room cabin. It appears that books (in English) about the house are out of print but available.

      May 29, 2015 at 00:15

      One of these days I’ll learn to close my italic tags.

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