Swedish born Hjalmar Molin was a much-accomplished engraver and watercolourist. He executed a large array of works predominantly featuring buildings.
Whether it be interior or exterior, Molin’s critics noted his ability to produce a finely detailed work of strong technical composition. He was also praised for adding a dramatic, romantic flare to his etchings.
Looming residential buildings swamp the foreground in shadowed shades, whilst framed in the centre of the work, a church stands in pearlescent luminescence. Figures in historical dress seem to slink into the shadows of a street dominated by the stark, spanning wall of a museum towering over them.
In each of his works, architecture is the focus, and Molin’s style makes this evident. Such inspiration in Molin’s artistic work came from his career as an architect.
Molin was trained professionally in architecture and was employed under a number of prominent Swedish architects of the time, including Ragnar Östberg (1866-1945).
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sweden was undergoing a vast civil engineering project. The boom of the industrial revolution led to an upsurge in improvements to towns and cities. In particular, the capital, Stockholm, was being rejuvenated in order to convey a sense of national identity and pride.
Ironically, architects were keen to slight the industrialisation which was making such building works possible. They desired a style of architecture which looked back upon a simpler past, imbued with the feeling of a richly historical Swedish culture. This became known as the National Romantic Movement.
Movement, too, for Molin. The many trips abroad he took to countries such as Spain and Italy were inspired by his architectural work. This in turn encouraged him to create his romantic yet technically sound etchings. Perhaps these were then used as references in the planning of new buildings in Sweden. Artistry was just as important to the construction of these buildings as mathematics and engineering, and clearly Molin played his part.
It is worth noting that whilst Molin undertook training in each of his professions, he also had a natural flair for the artistic. His father, Johann Molin, was a sculptor. Perhaps he taught his son the basics and nurtured his passion. This seems likely as both of Molin’s sisters, Gerda and Elin, were also painters.
Such artistic ability flourished in the home, and its growth became guided by the movement towards creating a strong, Swedish identity at the time. Molin’s works are now held in a number of collections, including that of the National Museum in Stockholm.
Born in Stockholm.
Studied at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
Studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts.
Travelled abroad in Europe.
Became a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in Britain. Married Gerda Elisabeth Hahr.
Died in Gryt, Östergötland.