Swedish Silver Objects Acquired by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm

16/4/12 - Acquisitions - Stockholm, Nationalmuseum - The Nationalmuseum recently purchased a clock, a pair of candlesticks and two salt shakers, all in silver, produced in the 19th century in Möllenborg’s studio.
Gustaf Möllenborg (1796-1851) started out as an apprentice with a silversmith in Växjö, southern Sweden, then moved to Stockholm in 1819 where he worked under the famous Gustaf Folcker, before becoming a master silversmith in 1823 at which time he opened his own studio which was to become one of the most important ones in the city, with almost forty collaborators using a mechanized technology for better production. The year before he died, in 1850, he turned over the reins to one of his fellow workers, Louis Constant Féron, who kept the Möllenberg name as the trade mark but adding his own ; the company lasted until 1927 when the contents of the studio were donated to the Nordiska Museet.

1. Gustaf Möllenborg’s Studio
Clock, 1844
Silver - H. 36.5 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Bukowskis

2. Möllenborg and Féron’s Studio
Candlesticks, 1852
Silver - H. 28 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Bukowskis

Among the three acquisitions, the clock was produced during Gustaf Möllenborg’s lifetime, the two others after his death. The decorative aspect of the base, ornated with shells and leaves, is in contrast with the Neo-Classical sobriety of the figure on top, (Aesculapius), with his familiar staff showing the entwined serpent. This clock was naturally presented as a gift to a doctor by his grateful patients, more precisely, to Professor Magnus Huss. Estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 crowns, it was auctioned off for 64,000 on 8 December 2011 in Stockholm at Bukowskis’ (ill. 1).
The candlesticks (ill. 2) in the shape of flowers, of a Naturalist style prefiguring Art Nouveau, were produced in 1852, that is a year after Möllenborg died. An inscription on the base indicates that they were meant for the president of the student union at Upsal (located in northern Sweden) to commemorate a student march to Christiania. They were sold for 10,000 crowns, also on 8 December 2011.

3. Möllenborg and Féron’s Studio
Salt Shakers, 1899-1900
Silver - H. 14 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Stockholms Auktionsverke

The two Neo-Renaissance salt shakers each evoke an elf holding a bowl, one of which even has a spoon in his hand (ill. 3). Sold for 75,000 crowns at Stockholm Auktionsverke in December 2011, they were created in 1899 and 1900 to complete the "elf service", a present made to the prince heir, the future Gustav V, when he married Victoria de Bade in 1881. It fit in perfectly with Gustav V’s dining room, decorated with elves accomplishing various tasks such as cooking or sewing. Most of this service now resides at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
This acquisitions round out the already rich 19th century holdings at the Nationalmuseum which owns other works from the Möllenborg studio, of various styles. They were made possible thanks to a donation from the Barbro Osher Foundation, because since the Nationalmuseum no longer has its own budget, the collection can only be increased through donations or else financing by private foundations.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 17 avril 2012

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