The museum’s history

The museum’s history

Carl Eldh was an active sculptor based in Stockholm during 1904-1954. He got his education in Stockholm and, as many other artists of the era, in Paris. During his lifetime Carl Eldh established himself as a recognized portrait sculptor. He was also commissioned to create a number of large monuments. Eldh’s sculptures are widely spread throughout Sweden and can be found in cities, parks, on building façades and in private, as well as public, collections.

Eldh’s artistic talent was evident early on. He left school at the age of 12 to contribute to the family income and his first job was teaching at a carpentry school. The earliest known artwork is a wooden relief, carved in oak in 1886 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 had the opportunity to study in France, Carl Eldh attended Technical Evening School, today Konstfack, while living in Stockholm. Eldh then spent seven years in Paris, where he studied and worked from 1897 to 1904. During that time he exhibited both in Paris and in Stockholm, which was possible due to his membership in the Swedish Artists’ League. As a relatively young artist – in 1901 – Eldh received a commission for a portrait bust of the Swedish King Oscar II. Another early success is Grieving mother, a powerful portrayal of a naked woman lying down and embracing her dead infant. It was awarded the gold medal at Salon de Paris, and then cut in marble for Glyptoteket in Copenhagen. His income was meager during the Paris years and Eldh had to obtain extra income. The Little Anna figurine is an example of such work. Eldh’s motifs from this period include everyday scenes, model studies and portraits.

During the 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.

Carl Eldh is probably most known for his many depictions of the Swedish writer August Strindberg. Eldh’s earliest depiction of Strindberg shows him 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. However, Eldh’s portrait repertoire was fairly broad with depictions of both historic and contemporary figures which can be experienced in the museums’ collection. Eldh was a recognized portrait sculptor due to his unique talent in focusing attention on the individual. Eldh strived to express what the person in question was like.

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.

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