Graphis Master: Carl Larsson’s Arts and Crafts-Inspired Work is Wondrous

The Swedish painter is a premier talent that cannot be praised enough

Carl Larsson may have died nearly a hundred years ago, but his work lives on in infamy today. The Swedish-born painter was a revelatory artist, one who propagated Swedish creativity into the forefront of the Arts and Crafts movement. From frescoes and watercolors to oil paintings and more, Larsson was a man who knew his craft and yet created simplistic portraits of quiet Swedish life. And although the man clearly not producing any new paintings, it is the kind of work that cannot be overstated enough.
Born in 1853 into a poor family in Stockholm, Larsson’s family were some of the few lower class individuals who did not flee poverty, malnourishment, and poor living conditions in their homeland to settle in the New Country. Instead, the Larsson family remained in Europe. Larsson’s father was a belligerent drunk who was often portrayed as a heartless man who lacked any sense of self-control or decency. His mother on the other hand was the family breadwinner, toiling away as a laundress for hours at a time to make ends meet. Thankfully, his chaotic childhood surroundings did not fetter his passion for the arts.

“Interior with a Cactus” (1914)

After graduating on a scholarship from the prestigious Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, Larsson found work as an illustrator for magazines, books, and newspapers, earning enough money to support his continually poor parents. Larsson would eventually leaving illustration for painting, where his mastery truly unfolded. Utilizing his home, wife, and children as models, Larsson soon began constructing an idyllic Swedish life, such as the work above. As Larsson explains, his paintings of home life “became the most immediate and lasting part of my life’s work. For these pictures are of course a very genuine expression of my personality, of my deepest feelings, of all my limitless love for my wife and children.” It would help champion simplistic Swedish interior design, a legacy that has remained a part of his body of work.
Be sure to look at the rest of Larsson’s Graphis Master Portfolio HERE.