A Painting by Nils Forsberg for the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm

Nils Forsberg (1842-1934)
Inside the Studio, vers 1886-1888
Oil on canvas - 73 x 55.5 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Cecilia Heisser/Nationalmuseum

18/2/14 - Acquisition - Stockholm, Nationalmuseum - Seated calmly on the paragon of antique sculpture, the Venus de Milo (or at least a plaster replica) lying on the floor, a young man in a studio is pointing his brush towards a blank canvas resting on an easel. He seems to be looking at a skull placed on a shelf at the back of the studio. In the foreground, a ceramic vase resembles a piece by Nils Barck (1863-1930) today residing at the Nationalmuseum.
This small painting by the Swede, Nils Forsberg (1842-1934), who depicts his son Nils Forsberg junior (1870-1961), was formerly in a private collection and was purchased recently by the Stockholm museum. The canvas has often been interpreted as a criticism of the Swedish Academy and more generally of the teaching of traditional fine arts in the late 19th century.
After training in Göteborg, Forsberg traveled to Paris in 1867 where he met Nils Barck, well known at the time for his stoneware, remaining there until 1902. He attended Léon Bonnat’s studio and received the gold medal at the Salon of 1888 for The Death of a Hero, today at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, and whose subject was inspired by the Franco-Prussian war in which he participated as a nurse.
Strangely enough, not many of the artist’s works can be found in French museums although he lived in Paris for over thirty years. The Base Joconde only lists two portraits (Désiré and Claire Lebarbier) at the Musée in Vendôme and three (unreproduced) paintings residing at the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg. The Musée d’Orsay holds a bronze plaque depicting the artist, by the sculptor Eric Lindberg.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 18 février 2014

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