According to Nexticle, the history of Swedish art begins in the early Stone Age with naturalistic cave drawings. Vast stylized rock paintings date back to the Bronze Age: the Tanum parish in the province of Bohus and the surroundings of Norrköping are especially rich in them. A large number of figured stones (from the island of Gotland) and others with interwoven runes and decorations (especially in Uppland) belong to the late period of the migrations of peoples and Vikings (contemporary to the Merovingian and Carolingian times). The goldsmith’s art had then reached a very high degree as evidenced by the rich finds of tombs from the century. VI to the century XI. Remains of wooden buildings of the century. XI with fine carvings are the only evidence of an architecture prior to the introduction of Christianity in Sweden. In the century XI the Swedes, like the other Scandinavian peoples, converted to Christianity; and this put an end to the development of indigenous art: Sweden became a peripheral area within the cultural sphere of the European peoples. The wooden churches of the evangelization period were gradually replaced by Romanesque stone buildings, which still largely exist today, except for the larger ones rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. The largest Romanesque building is the cathedral of Lund (v.), In Scania, which until 1658 belonged to Denmark. It is a basilica, covered with vaulted ceilings, with a richly decorated crypt and apse, similar to the Rhenish cathedrals and permeated with Lombard influences in the ornamentation. Donatus’s name, “magister operis huius” mentioned in the obituary, makes believe that Italian craftsmen were working on the construction. The first consecration took place in 1123. Romanesque churches also arose in other dioceses; and they followed in the century. 13th largest buildings. The construction of Linköping Cathedral in Östergötland, which began at the beginning of the 13th century. XIII, lasted for three centuries: it is an imposing church with aisles of equal height, with an airy ambulatory, which reflects the style of German Romanesque architecture and, above all, that of German, English and French Gothic art. The cathedral of Upsala, begun around 1260 by the French, has a basilica plan, in a Gothic style, with an ambulatory and chapels on the nave. Designed in brick masonry, it was instead built in brick, and during the construction it gradually passed from use of French forms to others of Baltic-German origin. The Gothic cathedrals of Strängnäs and Västeräs, like that of Stockholm, were also built of brick. Cistercian architecture is well represented in the convents of the order. A great example of this style is the still well preserved church in Varnhem (Västergötland). On the island of Gotland, a rich and elegant architecture of a provincial character flourished: its churches preserve interesting baptismal fonts and beautiful medieval wood carvings. A great example of this style is the still well preserved church in Varnhem (Västergötland). On the island of Gotland, a rich and elegant architecture of a provincial character flourished: its churches preserve interesting baptismal fonts and beautiful medieval wood carvings. A great example of this style is the still well preserved church in Varnhem (Västergötland). On the island of Gotland, a rich and elegant architecture of a provincial character flourished: its churches preserve interesting baptismal fonts and beautiful medieval wood carvings.
In the century XV wood carved altars and other sculptures were imported from cities in northern Germany, especially Lübeck. The admirable St. George in the Stockholm Cathedral, a work commemorating the victory over the Danes at Brunkeberg near Stockholm (1471), was painted by Bernt Notke of Lübeck. In the first decades of the century. XVI many other carved altars were imported from Antwerp and Brussels. The rustic churches around Lake Mälar have frescoes in an effectively decorative style and marked by a naive narrative character, not devoid of humor, the best of which are by a master Alberto, industrious around 1480.
After Sweden became Protestant (1527), it was the kings, and no longer the churches, who gave rise to culture and art. In the royal castles, such as Vadstena and Kalmar, reflections of the Renaissance appear, mainly of Dutch derivation. Portals, pediments and other forms of architectural decoration contrast with the severe structure of the buildings. Since then, Swedish architecture has maintained a sober and distinct look. Among the architects of the century. XVI the most notable are the members of the Pahr family, immigrated from Germany but originally from northern Italy.
The sec. XVII, which marks the political rise of the Swedish kingdom, powerfully favored artistic activity. Sweden suddenly found itself in competition with other European countries. The nobility, having become rich, tried to emerge by showing off a great luxury. The buildings and the decorations of the rooms reveal a pretentious style rather than real taste and technical mastery. However, the beautiful “house of the knights” in Stockholm, built by Filippo Vinckeboons and Giovanni De la Vallée, belongs to this period. De la Vallée, French, was supplanted by the two architects, Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and Nicodemus Tessin the Younger from Pomerania.
These, favored by the court and the nobility, adhered to the Roman architecture of the late Renaissance, repudiating the rich decoration and highlighting the structure and the various proportions of the building. In Drottningholm Castle, begun by Tessin the Elder and continued by Tessin the Younger, French forms mix with Italians.
The royal castle of Stockholm, by Tessin the Younger, is the most important building of the Swedish Baroque period, of Roman grandeur, in a wonderful position on the river. In interior decoration, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger follows French models using French painters and sculptors.
The sculpture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is mainly represented by funerary monuments made by foreign craftsmen. Painting provided portraits to the royal house and the nobility. About the middle of the century. Some good foreign painters stayed in Sweden for a short time, such as the French Sebastiano Bourdon and the Dutch David Beck, court painters of Queen Christina, and Jürgen Ovens, a native of Holstein, court painter of Queen Hedwig Eleonora. It is not without reason that the Hamburger David Klöcker, who was conferred the noble title von Ehrenstrahl, is considered as the founder of Swedish painting; because he spent his whole life in Sweden forming around him a school of painters, among which was also his nephew David von Krafft who succeeded him in the position of court painter. Ehrenstrahl painted, in addition to portraits, allegorical paintings, paintings with horses and hunts. It was influenced by Dutch painters and by Pietro da Cortona. After the disastrous wars of Charles XII at the beginning of the century. XVIII, the young Swedish painters had to emigrate abroad: Martin Mytens the Younger in Austria, Georg des Marées in Bavaria, Michael Dahl in London, Gustav Lundberg in Paris. The latter, a very notable watercolor painter, who later returned to his homeland, left many portraits there.
The construction of the castle in Stockholm, interrupted during the war years, was continued and completed in about the middle of the century from 1728. XVIII under the direction of Karl Hårleman. Sculptors (Jacques Philippe Bouchardon and Pierre Larchevesque) and French painters (Guillaume-Thomas Taraval) collaborated on the decoration of the interiors. In turn, France welcomed some excellent Swedish artists: the portrait painter Alexander Roslin, the elegant watercolorist Nicolas Lafrensen (Lavreince) and the illuminator PA Hall. In Stockholm some diligent portrait painters, such as JH Scheffel and Olof Arenius, faithfully portrayed characters of the aristocracy and the upper middle class.
The reign of Gustav III was a flowering period for the arts and letters. Portrait painters, educated in France, Lorens Pasch the Younger and Per Krafft the Elder, competed with KF von Breda, returning from England. After a long industriousness in Denmark, the Swedish Carl Gustav Pilo, returned to his homeland, composed the Coronation of Gustav III, a picture full of pictorial values. Elias Martin, who matured in England, painted landscapes imbued with light; For Hilleström good still lifes and interior scenes with figures. The most brilliant Swedish artist of his time was the sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel: representative, during his stay in Rome (1767-78), of the incipient neoclassicism still imbued with Baroque elements, he had, upon returning home, to devote himself to more modest tasks, losing contact with the European artistic movement. The architects Carl Fredrick Adelcrantz and Palmstedt used a sober and elegant French style, then replaced, after the king’s trip to Italy (1783-84), by the severe Greek art of the Frenchman Jean Louis Desprez, called from abroad. Desprez, who could not build much, given the unfavorable financial conditions, instead he established himself as a brilliant set designer. In the constructions of Sundvall and Gjörvell the classical approach continues to be expressed.