Baroque and Rococo art, Nationalmuseum

A large part of the works that today are considered to be the core of the National Museum’s collection of pre-1800 paintings are mainly from a few collections: Carl Gustaf Tessins, Queen Lovisa Ulrikas, King Adolf Fredriks and Gustav III’s. However, several of the most significant works in royal collections had been acquired through Tessin in various ways.

In these collections, French, Dutch and Gustavian Swedish painting dominated, which thus greatly influenced the composition of the National Museum’s collection as it appears today. Several of the museum’s works by Rembrandt have been owned by these people, as well as other important works from the 17th century Netherlands and some from the same time Flanders.

Of these four collectors, Carl Gustaf Tessin has undoubtedly been of the greatest importance, not least because much in the collections of Adolf Fredrik and Lovisa Ulrika ended up there through his care. At the age of nineteen Tessin set out on a grand tour during which he stayed in Paris between 1714 and 1716. He would later return in several rounds, but on this first visit he acquired a number of master drawings and 23 so-called contre-épreuves by Antoine Watteau , as well as got to know several of the artists of the time. In 1728, Tessin was back in Paris, now with better financial prospects since he was appointed superintendent in charge of the castle building in Stockholm, inherited his father and married a wealthy heiress. He now acquired paintings by artists such as François Lemoyne , François Desportes , Nicolas Lancret and Jean-Baptiste Pater. Of Watteau, whom he held high, however, he bought nothing. One has seen an explanation for this in that the artist had now passed away and that Tessin concentrated on living artists and that the prices of Watteau’s works became high. The stay in Paris also meant that art was purchased on behalf of the castle building. From Paris he traveled to Venice to try to contract Giovanni Battista Tiepolo to the same, but without success.

In 1739, Tessin was back in Paris, where the art scene behaved differently with the salon restored since 1737. During this visit he focused on François Boucher and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and acquired, among other things, Bouchers Venus triumph , which was displayed in the salon in 1740. Tessin also made several purchases of Dutch painting in the Parisian market, mainly through the art dealer Edme – Francois Gersaint. Among the works is Rembrandt’s Portrait of a young woman in profile and Constantin Verhouts Insomnia student. The drawing collection that Tessin acquired is discussed below, in a special section on the museum’s collection of art on paper.

Watteau’s Love Lesson
If something could be considered missing in Tessin and later the museum’s otherwise complete collection of 18th-century French painting, it was Watteau’s oil painting, of which any acquisition thus never became. As late as the 1950s, it would be possible to supplement the collection with a work by the artist. It was about the Love Lesson , which was lent to an exhibition in connection with which they arranged a national gathering in order to pay the approximately SEK 750,000 requested. At this time, the museum’s acquisition grant for the purchase of older painting amounted to SEK 15,000. A fierce debate followed, but eventually they had managed to collect funds so that they were able to pay a bargain price of about SEK 500,000. Subsequently, the collection has been supplemented by another oil painting by Watteau, The Italian Serenade , donated in 1962 by an anonymous donor through the Friends of the National Museum.

This period is usually called the Baroque. The word Baroque can also be used to describe an artistic style, with dynamic compositions, strong emotions and a direct appeal to the senses. The style originated in Catholic Europe but spread to Protestant areas and throughout the world.One of the purposes of art was to persuade, to argue for the right faith or for a prince’s claim to power and glory. Silver and precious textiles spoke convincingly about the owner’s position. With realistic images of Jesus, Mary and the saints, the artists wished to remind the viewer of their humanity and make them imagine their suffering. This hall shows art related to the cultural cities of Rome, Antwerp, Paris and Amsterdam. Artists travelled there, as well as to nearby areas, to be educated, and for commissions and inspiration.

Interior decoration of a new royal palace in Stockholm became a bravado display of French Rococo, but also a hothouse for local artists and craftsmen. The result was a flowering of porcelain manufacturing and silversmithing. For the acquisition of movables such as paintings, however, France was pre-eminent. Carl Gustaf Tessin, who was in charge, also made private art purchases in France, eventually precipitating his financial ruin. Fredrik I bought his collection of paintings, which later became state property.By mid-century, artistic development in Sweden had reached such heights that the country re-exported several significant artists, including the three court painters Carl Gustaf Pilo (Copenhagen), Martin van Meytens the Younger (Vienna), and Alexander Roslin (Paris).

Johan Tobias Sergel’s eleven years in Rome, from 1767, mark a shift in Swedish art from Rococo to Neoclassicism. Internationally as well, his sculptures are among the era’s highlights. Other Swedes followed his lead, but it was not until Gustav III’s 1783-1784 Italian tour that Neoclassicism became established here. He acquired works by leading artists and hired Louis Jean Desprez, a Frenchman. In arts and crafts, the king’s encounter with ancient art brought a shift in interior decoration tastes.British influence was represented by Elias Martin in landscape painting and Carl Fredrik von Breda in portraiture. But it was not until the 20th century that British 18th-century paintings were acquired by Nationalmuseum, along with works by that century’s greatest painter, Francisco Goya of Spain.

Nationalmuseum is Sweden’s museum of art and design. Nationalmuseum is also a government authority with a mandate to preserve cultural heritage and promote art, interest in art and knowledge of art. The collections comprise of painting, sculpture, drawings and prints from 1500-1900 and applied arts, design and portraits from early Middle Ages up until present day.

The National Museum is a Swedish state central museum in Stockholm and Sweden’s largest art museum. The collections consist of painting, sculpture and art on paper from around the 16th century to the 20th century, as well as art and design objects from the 16th century to the present. The total number of objects amounts to approximately 700,000. The museum is located at Blasieholmen in Stockholm, in a building designed for the purpose by the German architect Friedrich August Stüler. The building was completed in 1866 but the museum’s history is older than that and goes back to June 28, 1792 when the Royal Museuminstituted. The National Museum is thus one of Europe’s oldest art museums.

The collections were moved to Blasieholmen after previously, to some extent, being stored in the Royal Museum, which opened in 1794 in the northern logyard wing of the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Like many other national art museums, the collections are to a significant extent based on generations of royal collections, which for various reasons have become state-owned. For example, works belonging to Gustav Vasa can be seen at the National Museum.

The museum’s activities also extend outside the building at Blasieholmen. For example, the National Museum belongs to the Swedish State’s portrait collection, which is on display at Gripsholm Castle. An extensive deposit business from the museum holds several authorities and institutions with art. In addition, items from the museum’s collections are displayed at a number of other museum institutions around the country.