Carl Eldh was an active sculptor based in Stockholm during 1904-1954. He got his education in Stockholm and, as well as many other artists at the time, in Paris. During his lifetime, Carl Eldh established himself as a recognized portrait sculptor, and he was also commissioned to make a number of large monuments. Eldh’s sculptures are widely spread throughout the country and can be found in cities, parks, on building façades and in private, as well as public, collections.
Eldh’s artistic talent was evident from an early age. He left school at the age of 12 to contribute to the family income, his first job was as a teacher at a carpentry school. The earliest known artwork is a wooden relief, carved in oak when Eldh was around 13 years old. One of his first known public works, a wooden relief for the portico of the church in Film village dated 1895, can be found in his home parish in Northern Uppland.
Before he got an opportunity to study in France, Carl Eldh attended Technical Evening School, today Konstfack, while living in Stockholm. Eldh spent seven years in Paris, where he studied and worked 1897-1904. During that time he exhibited both in Paris and in Stockholm, which was possible due to his membership in the Swedish Artists’ League. Eldh received a commission for a portrait bust of the Swedish King Oscar II at a relatively young age, in 1901. Another early success is Grieving mother, a powerful portrayal of a naked woman lying down and embracing her dead infant. It was awarded gold medal at Salon de Paris, and then cut in marble for Glyptoteket in Copenhagent. Eldh’s motifs from this period include everyday scenes, model studies and portraits.
During early 20th century, Eldh cooperated with many famous architects. One of the earliest commissions back in Stockholm was producing a series of reliefs and sculptures in sandstone for the main entrance of the Nordic Museum in 1905, as well as two reliefs in granite produced for Östermalm Public High School, Östra Real. Carl Eldh was one of the artists who contributed with a number of sculptures to Ragnar Östberg’s Stockholm City Hall, where one can find The Song and The Dance, The Painter, The Writer and The Poet, all produced during the 1920s. Eldh’s earliest depiction of the Swedish writer August Strindberg shows Strindberg on a stroll, a motif inspired by real life. When Eldh worked in a temporary studio at Narvavägen August Strindberg would go by his windows every day, since he lived in the neighborhood.
Carl Eldh is probably most known for his many depictions of August Strindberg, but his portrait repertoire was fairly broad with depictions of both historic and contemporary people, which can be experienced in the museums’ collection. Eldh was a recognized portrait sculptor due to his unique talent to focus attention on the individual, he strived to capture a person’s entire being. One of Carl Eldh’s most popular sculptures is The Youth from 1911, it can be found in many places in Sweden.
Carl Eldh is represented in both private and public collections, among others Museum of Modern Art and Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde in Stockholm. Uppsala Art Museum, Gothenburg Art Museum, Museum of Sketches in Lund, The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, The National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, and Swedish Institute in Paris. There are big public collections in Stockholm City, Olofström county and in the sculpture park in Rottneros, Värmland.