Carl Larsson: A Swedish Artist & Influencer of Modern Design

Carl Larsson(May 28, 1853–January 22, 1919)He was a Swedish painter and interior designer who made a name for himself and his wife, despite the harsh circumstances of his early years.
An Unhappy Upbringing…
  Born in Gamla stan, known today as “the old town” in Stockholm, he and his brother grew up very poor with an alcoholic father who often had raging outbursts, and a Mother who worked tirelessly as a laundress to provide shelter for her family.  
The parents split up eventually and the Mother and her two children moved into a slum housing district, today known as Östermalm, in Stockholm.
It was here that they had to share a room with two other families and lived in a harsh, poverty-level environment.
Making His Way As An Artist:
 Carl had to attend a special school for poverty-stricken children who were not able to go to regular school. At the age of thirteen, however, his teacher saw Carl’s artistic talent and urged him to apply to the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.
It is speculated that Carl inherited the talent from his grandfather, on his Mother’s side, who was a painter by trade. Carl was admitted to the school, although he often felt insecure and out of place, especially in the beginning, as a shy boy, and as the youngest there. 

But he gained confidence when, three years later, in 1869 at the age of sixteen, he was promoted to the “antique school” of the same academy, and earned his first medal in nude drawing.

But he gained confidence when, three years later, in 1869 at the age of sixteen, he was promoted to the “antique school” of the same academy, and earned his first medal in nude drawing.
During his years as a student, he worked as a graphic artist for the newspaper Ny Illustrerad Tidning, and a caricaturist for the humorous paper Kasper.
Several years after the academy, he continued to work as an illustrator of books, magazines, and newspapers, and was able to help ease the financial woes of his parents.
Later at the age of twenty-four, he moved to Paris, where he spent several years struggling as an artist, without reaching any success.

But he gained confidence when, three years later, in 1869 at the age of sixteen, he was promoted to the “antique school” of the same academy, and earned his first medal in nude drawing.

Since Carl had no desire to be a part of the radical movement that popularized the work of many French progressive impressionists, he moved at the age of twenty nine to a Scandinavian artists’ colony outside of Paris, in Grez-sur-Loing, and surrounded himself with Swedish painter colleagues.

In Grez, Larsson switched his technique by changing from oil paints, to using watercolors. It was there that Carl painted some of his most influential works.
It was here that Carl met the six year younger artist, Karin Bergöö (Born on October 3, 1859).  Karin, who had also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, and had followed the same path as Carl and moved to the Scandinavian artist colony, where she met her future soon-to-be husband.  
They married in 1883, and after a couple of years in Paris, the couple returned back home to Sweden, first to Stockholm and then to Gothenburg, where Carl worked as a teacher at Valands Art College.

In 1884, his firstborn child was born, and they proceeded to have seven more through the years. Karin and his children were Carl’s favorite models- apparent in most of his watercolor paintings, which are now loved and cherished all over the world.

Here are a few of the wonderful watercolor paintings showcasing them..

LILLA HYTTNÄS..

In 1888, the growing Larsson family, was in desperate need of a larger home and was given a cottage by Karin’s father, Adolf Bergöö, a successful businessman. This small cottage was named Lilla Hyttnäs located in the picturesque village of Sundborn, outside the town of Falun. Through Larsson’s paintings and books this house has become one of the most famous artist’s homes in the world. The descendants of Carl and Karin Larsson now own this house and keep it open for tourists each summer from May until October.

CARL LARSSON AND HIS WIFE KARIN, ARE ONE OF THE MOST WELL-KNOWN COUPLES IN SWEDEN, WHOSE LIFE, ART AND DESIGN HAVE COME TO CHARACTERIZE THE IDYLLIC PICTURE OF SWEDEN.