The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. “The strokes come like speech.

“The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech.” Vincent Van Gogh

Welcome to my third and final instalment about Carl Larsson and his watercolours of the beloved family home; a place where he ‘experienced an indescribable delightful feeling of seclusions from the hustle and bustle of the world’.

Carl Larsson (1853-1919) was heavily influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK and over the years Karin and Carl transformed their humble abode and in the process created a lasting legacy for interior design in Scandinavia and beyond. Their charming, evocative and distinctive style in furnishings is still highly influential and inspiring homemakers today.

“If light is in your heart you will always find your way home.” Rumi

Whilst Carl, with some help from carpenters, made the furniture, carved the doors and cupboards, Karin was responsible for the textiles and tapestries at ‘Little Hyttnäs’ as well as the rugs.

The idea to paint pictures of the home was first suggested to Carl by Karin during a rainy summer in 1894 when she feared her husband would fall into depression. Inspired, he continued to paint all aspects of their house and lives within and outside it.

“A picture is a poem without words.” Horace

Following Carl’s acceptance of an invitation from the publisher Bonnier to print some of his watercolours, twenty-four of the paintings were reproduced in the now famous ‘Ett Hem’ book. Initially sales were slow in Sweden until a German version became an instant bestseller in Germany, selling 40,000 copies in three months.

Carl and Karin Larsson were said to have been overwhelmed by its success however Carl always felt that the pictures of his family and home ‘became the most immediate and lasting part of my life’s work. For these pictures are of course, a very genuine expression of my personality, of my deepest feelings, of all my limitless love for my wife and children.’

‘Ett Hem’ has never been out of print and has had over 40 print runs. Today the family home is owned by their descendants and open to tourists during the summer.

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Winston Churchill

NB. I look forward to reading your thoughts about the posts in this series and I will respond upon my return to the UK later in the month.

79 thoughts on “ETT HEM #3

  1. Hello Annika! I’m loving these paintings. I could stare at them for hours. The quotes are lovely too. What an enchanting book. Thank you for sharing the art of Carl Larsson.

    1. Vashti, I’m so happy you came across this series of posts! 😀 These paintings have been with me since young, via the book, postcards, art galleries, but I’d never really ‘looked’ at them before now. It was a treat to prepare these posts, research … now I long to visit his/their home! One day, perhaps …

  2. I have missed not being here Annika.. and found this post absolutely fascinating my friend.. Painting is my own way of releasing emotions.. And I love the choice of paintings you have shared.. ❤ xxx

    1. Sue, as an artist I’m sure the series appealed particularly to you … as these paintings were so different from much of his other work I wondered how they came to be! It seems they not only saved him from depression but reinforced his love of the family and home. So happy you had a chance to read and comment. Hugs. ❤️ Xx

    1. It’s almost as if you can feel their love and cooperation in creating this wonderful home … and to think what a loss it would have been if he had not painted these pictures! We are lucky indeed!😀

  3. I so love Carl Larsson’s art! Thank you for this great series of stories and paintings, Annika. I remember all the Christmas cards I used to sent/get with his beautiful images.

    1. Tiny, that’s right – I’d forgotten those Christmas cards but used to be sent a lot! I’m so glad you enjoyed the series and the paintings brought back good memories. 😀

    1. Absolutely, Brigid … and his art and its influence will only continue to grow! As always with such posts, it’s hard deciding which images to leave out as they were all so wonderful.

    1. Thank you so much, David for your eloquent and kind comment! I wanted the paintings to stand on their own and not become overwhelmed with the description, yet a touch was needed to describe his life and work. Hoping you are well. 😀

  4. I’ve missed this series because I knew you were away and didn’t think to check. The illustrations are beautiful. Welcome back, and happy weekend, Annika 🙂 🙂

    1. So glad you got a chance to visit and I totally understand…I’m the same. Thank you so much, it feels good to be back today with such a sunny and peaceful start to the day with the garden beckoning! Happy Weekend to you too, Jo…when are you off to Portugal? Xx

  5. I loved reading your posts: the quotes, the wonderful photos of Carl Larsson’s paintings, a glimpse into his beautiful home, his poverty stricken background that propelled him into making a home for himself and his family. It was a joy to read and look at, Annika. ❤

    1. Carol, thank you so much! 😀❤️ I’m so happy you enjoyed the posts, his paintings and learning a bit about his life! With such a dire start to life, it could have gone so many way, it’s wonderful that art, creativity and love shone through. Glad you liked the quotes too! Wishing you a lovely weekend. Xx

  6. Hi Annika,

    Thanks for taking the time to compile these three fabulous posts, introducing us to Carl’s paintings. It’s truly moving how the love for his family and home were expressed through his delightful artwork, while also interesting to find out how his wife contributed to the big picture. All the quotes you chose were perfect, too. However, I do love this one from the artist himself: “For these pictures are of course, a very genuine expression of my personality, of my deepest feelings, of all my limitless love for my wife and children.”
    Hope you’re having a wonderful time, as well. Hugs 💕

    1. Lauren, it’s odd how the last minute additions/finds are the ones that mean the most! I found this quote by accident after I’d prepared the post and scribbled it down and took it with me to Sweden! Once there I had to go to the library for a rewrite. His love for his family knew no bounds and I feel Carl and Karin’s relationship was one of united creativity and care! I’m so glad you enjoyed the posts-they were a pleasure to put together and a joy to share! Oh, I had a most special wonderful sunshine break … basking in the energising light and warmth, despite the first week of snow and frost! Then Spring suddenly leapt out and surprised us … lovely long lunches outside (albeit wrapped up for warmth!) hugs xx😀❤️

  7. Annika, these three posts have been absolutely wonderful. What beauty and honour – to both you and to Carl Larsson whom I already adored. Thank you!
    You quote him :
    “For these pictures are of course, a very genuine expression of my personality, of my deepest feelings, of all my limitless love for my wife and children.’”

    He certainly show this in the sensitive and beautiful paintings, in his light and loving touch.
    I was very interested to learn that his wife created a lot of the fabrics. Didn’t know this.

    Again Annika, this is a superb series of work by you and I love every quote you used.
    🤗 Miriam

    1. Wow! 😀 Miriam, thank you so much for your superlative comment which brings in so many elements of my post. I too love his words about his own work and as is often the case I only came across this quote late and after I’d written the post … a whole rewrite resulted, for the better I felt. The warmth and love between the couple shine through at all times and the creative energy in their house must have been incredible and the success of these paintings is also down to her work for a large part … a fact he always made known. Miriam, I’m so happy you enjoyed this series, images and quotes – they were an absolute joy to research and share. Wishing you a lovely start to the week! xx

    1. Aren’t they just!? 😀 I’ve seen them around since young and always liked them, but it was a revelation even to me when I studied them in more detail and the history of his life. His warmth and love shines through them. I too was taken with the fact his family descendants still own the house and before the trip I checked out where it was – alas too far this time but summer hopefully! I can’t wait to visit. Thank you so much, I had a blissful idyllic time, starting with snow and deep frost but stunning sunshine, melting to green warmer sunshine days … poor U.K. had constant rain and cloud so I feel so lucky. Hope you’ve had a good break and enjoyed time with your family, Julie! ❤️ Hugs xx

    1. Iris, these paintings are now synonymous with CL and when I came across the book I immediately wanted to learn more about his life and to share here. Oh, I had a most wonderful holiday with constant sun, such peace and beauty … blessed indeed. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. 😀🌺

  8. I loved this series, Annika. The paintings are just sublime. So beautiful in color, style, and detail, with a wonderful serenity about them. I’m so glad you shared the background of the artist, his young life and his family. His heart is all over his art. 🙂

    1. Diana, I totally agree … it’s the heart and soul in these paintings which is one huge element in their universal appeal and continuing influence -one that is even more heartfelt when one knows his private family story. I’m so glad you enjoyed the series … this Easter I remembered to put the comments on! 😀 Hope you’re having a lovely weekend; the first real day of Spring in the U.K. and everyone has gone lawn-mowing mad!

  9. I had seen images of Larsson’s family and interior work before, but seeing what he considered his masterpiece, “Midvinterblot,” was especially touching while at Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts, considering what he went through after its completion and rejection. Great to see his watercolors from “Ett Hem” here.

    1. Wow! That must have been quite something to see for real! I had read about ‘Midvinterblot’ and how he considered this his masterpiece. The rejection took him hard and he fought so for it to take the promised place. It looks stunning in photos but I would love to see this in real life. In my drafts I wrote about the painting but it didn’t seem to fit unless I mentioned so much of the rest of his life and work, so thank you for talking about it here! So glad you enjoyed his watercolours from ‘Ett Hem’.

      1. It looked so “meant to be” where it was. I couldn’t imagine it not being placed there before, and so I am glad I had read about the initial rejection because otherwise seeing it there wouldn’t have had the significance it did. As for the work itself, I found it to be full of pathos with a fairy-tale quality. Entirely different from what I knew of his ‘Ett Hem’ illustrations which feel very cozy and loving to me.

  10. These paintings surely are heartfelt, and the attention to detail really amazes me. Thank you for sharing them. Have a safe trip home to the UK.

    1. Lori, I totally agree … these are incredibly heartfelt and painted with such love, warmth and care … and yes, the detail is immaculate and I always see something different whilst looking at them. Many thanks for reading and commenting and for your best wishes for the trip home … safely so albeit rather gruelling with a three hour delay on board the plane before take-off. Lovely to be back but takes a few days to ‘land’!😀

  11. What gorgeous paintings. It’s not just the quality of the art, it’s the emotion that comes through in the look on the faces, the placement of a foot, the extras added behind the figure. Delightful, Annika.

    1. Exactly, Jacqui!! He had an incredible eye for detail and like you say, even the placing of a foot is so expressive! Overall they encompass such love and light in his life … and luckily painted it to share. I’m so glad you enjoyed them all.

    1. Sarah, I imagine these paintings would resonate particularly with you and your artistic nature … did you know of his work before? It’s been a joy to share here and a wonderful excuse to lose myself a while in research! Hugs xx

  12. Lovely posts Annika. I have a friend who has Ett Hem. Was thinking I might have had to do a post called ‘Where in the World is Annika Perry?’ …. but here you are. 🙂🙂🍃

    1. Bless you!! 😀❤️ Every time I read your comment I chuckle and can’t stop smiling … it’s nice to be missed!! No need for the search party – I’m back safe and sound! 😀 Yeah, I love how your friend has a copy of the book … where is it from? Printed in New Zealand? It’s amazing to look at, isn’t it? My mother’s book is in good condition with the original introduction but the prints were slightly faded compared to the ones I found on the internet.

      1. I don’t know where it is printed but it is titled in English – At Home – I feel sure it would be printed in Great Britain. My friend was utterly intoxicated with the homeliness of the book – having four girls and a boy (now grown up).

        1. You’re right, that is the English title … your friend is not the only one intoxicated by the homeliness and going around Ikea the other day its influences is widespread, strong and still all pervasive.

  13. I had not heard of this artist Annika…the paintings are beautifully done, with an eye for detail! Thanks for sharing them along with some wonderful quotes. 🙂 Hope you are having a lovely time. Stay blessed!

    1. Balroop, it’s been a joy and pleasure to shared the paintings, a bit about CL’s life and the quotes and I’m so happy you enjoyed the series! ❤️ His work is full of light and love, I feel and uplifting to view! I’ve, had a wonderful time, thank you and be blessed with non-stop sunshine, albeit a bit chilly to start … heavenly to be out so much amongst nature! Warmest thanks for your lovely comment. Hugs xxx

  14. Thank-you for the introduction to CL’s lovely work. I think I might have seen some of his paintings before as the style seemed quite familiar. I have also enjoyed reading all the quotes you have found. I hope you have enjoyed your holiday xx

    1. Clare, thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😀 I’ve had a wonderful extended holiday and been blessed with sunshine everyday apart from one rainy day … life-affirming and rejuvenating! Just recovering from three hour delay of flight last night whilst stuck in the plane!

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you have come across CL’s paintings, they are quite famous and widely used. I’m so happy you enjoyed the posts and the quotes in what I hoped would be an all-encompassing series. Xx

      1. Oh poor you! What a horrible delay! If only we had had so much sunshine here 😀 You will no doubt hear from friends and neighbours what the weather has been like. Glad you’re home safely! xx

    1. Laura, thank you so much for your lovely comment and I’m so glad you enjoyed all the elements of the posts! 😀 I particularly love how these paintings came about as an attempt to cheer up her husband and thereby he saw the love and blessings of his family and home … a lesson for us all, surely?

  15. Hi, Annika. I wasn’t familiar with Carl Larsson’s work and thank you for the introduction. His paintings are beautiful and I lingered over all of them. They really are amazing, like peeking into an idyllic life. Thank you for this wonderful series!

    1. Mae, warmest thanks for your wonderful comment. ❤️ Your reference to ‘an idyllic life’ is how I’ve always felt about the paintings, even since young and I feel the love in the family shines through, whatever his earlier traumas and hardships. They’re definitely worth lingering over and at times I become so absorbed doing just that when I was supposed to be writing about his life!

  16. Hi Annika, I’ve enjoyed these posts. It is so touching to think of this artist’s humble beginnings and then witness the beauty he created in his home. I also like the Van Gogh quote about painting strokes being like words.

    1. Hi Janice, how true that the paintings resonate even more once you know his troubled traumatic start in life … and this seems to be true for so many great painters, many not even recognised for their work whilst still alive. Van Gogh is one … I loved his quote too – reading his letters he was a gifted wordsmith!

  17. Mike

    I really enjoyed your posts Annika. I had heard of Carl Larsson and had seen one or two of his more famous paintings. I’ve always liked the colour and light and his almost architectural style, and now thanks to you I know so much mor about him.

    Thanks for sharing


    1. Mike, it was a joy to share a bit about CL’s life and work here … seeing the book on my mother’s shelf was serendipity as I was casting around for post ideas whilst away over Easter. It was interesting to read that you felt his style was almost architectural – I hadn’t thought of this but feel you are right. The combination of colour and light help lift these paintings to the sublime, letting us feel their immediacy, even over a hundred years later.

    1. Bette, it was a pleasure to compile these posts and thank you so much for reading and commenting! ❤️ As always I had to restrain my impulses and not add too much information!

    1. Jill, you’re right, I became painfully aware that this was just a brief introduction and nearly felt I was doing his life and work an injustice as there was so much more … by setting it around the book it became manageable for these posts. So glad you liked the quotes too! Hugs ❤️😀

  18. These posts have been very informative. Carl Larsson’s paintings are delightful. I would love to visit his house one day. I also love the quotes you chose.

    1. Darlene, it would be special to visit his house and I must admit it’s location is one of the first things I checked when I started researching the post. Alas too far for my Easter break but summer I hope! Do you think you’ll get a chance to visit … it’s wonderful that it is still owned by the family. I’m so happy you enjoyed the posts and all their elements. Hugs 😀❤️

  19. Annika, thank you for this wonderful introduction to the work of Carl Larsson. Without your posts this year and last, I would never have been exposed to the rich artistry that abides in Sweden.

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Bernadette… I must admit I’ve learned a lot along the way and although I was aware of some of CL’s paintings I knew none of the history or had studied the pictures in detail. Sweden has a rich artistic life in all areas, music is well-known, less so the art and it’s a joy to share here. Hugs xx

    1. Neil, I’m so glad you enjoyed CL’s work and agree with your comment about his paintings. I feel the light – both actual and emotional – helps to give them that openness. Many thanks for reading and writing. Warmest wishes, Annika

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s