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About an artwork and its creator, part 2 August 3, 2011

Posted by conedo in About an artwork..., Art.
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Nordic summer´s evening (Nordisk sommarkväll) by Richard Bergh

The Stockholm born Swedish painter Richard Bergh, used 2 famous Swedes as models for his “Nordic summer’s evening”, painted at the turn of the last century. The man is the member of the Swedish Royal family; Prince Eugen (he was also a famous painter) and the woman is the singer Karin Pyk. This painting was not supposed to be solemnly portraits , but an artwork mediating a mood to the beholders. Bergh once said “Art means to feel.”

Nordic summer’s evening; original title in Swedish: Nordisk sommarkväll; by Richard Bergh. Painted 1899 – 1900, oil on canvas. Size: 170 x 223,5 cm

The painter

Born December 28th 1858 in Stockholm, Sweden, died at the age of 60, on January 29th 1919. As a son of the landscape painter Edvard Bergh, Richard was trained at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm and later also in Paris, France. Besides being a painter, Richard Bergh also was a writer of art theory and author of books on cultural politics. He was secretary of the Swedish Association for Artists and a teacher in the Association’s art schools. In the 1890’s he established an art school of his own at his atelier, and in the year 1915 he became director of the National Museum  (Nationalmuseum) in Stockholm, Sweden;  thus contributing to increase the museum’s collection of early modernists.

Richard Bergh made several famous portraits in his early career, e.g. of the Swedish authors August Strindberg and Gustaf Fröding. Bergh’s landscape paintings  played an important role in the development of Swedish romantic nationalism and he was inspired by French painters like Édouard Manet and Claude Monet.

Richard Bergh photographed in 1904

The painting

“Nordic summer’s evening” has become a symbolic painting for the so called “Nordic light” paintings, a theme for many Scandinavian painters. It is seen as a romantic mood painting with some symbolism embedded in it. The interpretations are many; e.g. the sexual tension between a man and a woman, and the human connection to nature. The painting depicts the view from the balcony on “Ekholmsnäs”, on the island of Lidingö in Stockholm. The two models were painted on different occasions; Prince Eugen was painted there on the balcony, while the singer Karin Pyk was painted in Assissi, Italy.

The original painting can be seen in the Gothenburg Art Museum (Göteborgs Konstmuseum), Sweden.

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