Olsson, Gottfrid (1890-1979)

Olsson, Gottfrid (1890-1979)
Olsson, Gottfrid (1890-1979)

Gottfrid Ernst Julius Olsson was an accomplished Swedish painter of landscapes, coastal scenes and still lifes. Hailing from the picturesque region of Skåne, his spirited depictions of Scanian scenery and everyday life were popular with the local public.

He trained at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and soon began exhibiting with Skåne's art association. During the early part of his career, his style, particularly his enamel-like colouring caused quite a sensation. In 1923, a critic described him as “a personality who has something of his own to say, who takes art seriously and does not want to appear without the most thorough preparations.”

Aside from his local views, he also sought inspiration abroad, travelling to France, Italy, Germany and Holland. In 1948, he produced an oil painting of a quaint street in the French town of La Ciotat.

His works are held in numerous public collections including at Malmö Museum.


Skåne's Art Association.

Public Collections

Malmö Museum, Hälsingborg Museum, Lund Museum, Tomelilla Museum.



Born in Lilla Harrie, Skåne County, Sweden, to Måns Olsson and Kjersti (Kerstin) Olsson (nee Jönsson).


Lived in Malmöhus, Skåne.


Studied at Ahltin's painting school in Stockholm.


Studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.

Studied at Axel Tallberg’s etching school in Stockholm.


Debuted at an exhibition of Skåne's Art Association.


Awarded an Academy medal for figure painting.

Review published in Arbetet.

“Skåne Art Association's exhibition.

Gottfrid Olsson, who exhibits no less than eleven canvases. He has found his style, everything is collected and fixed. A dark colour scale, he lives in the same way as Delacroix with one or another red colour splash and the light effect is increased through the domical varnishing, which almost gives the impression of enamel. The canvases get a certain relief effect. It is clear that this action must not be exaggerated and become manner. The motifs are Scanian nature and Scanian folklife.

Gottfrid Olsson is one of the few who takes an interest in people, but he does so mostly for purely decorative purposes. In ‘Potato Picking’ and ‘Four Old Women’ he achieves a monumental effect, which through the claire-obscure of the liquid colour will remind you of Daumier. The little ‘Torp på ljunghed’ is masterful.”

Review published in The South Swedish Daily Newspaper.

“Skåne's art association opening.

Gottfrid Olsson caused a bit of a sensation with his original genre pictures and landscapes in enamel tones; seven of the eight paintings were sold immediately.


The Art Association for Southern Sweden acquired Torp på ljunghed by Gottfrid Olsson, and this artist also got individual buyers for five of his paintings, namely Three old women, Road through village, Potato picking, Bethackning and Farm sport.”


Review published in Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

“Gottfrid Olsson's exhibition at Anderbergs.

It is Skåne's art association that brought Gottfrid Olsson's name and art to the fore. At the big exhibition in Kungsparken in 1919, he was present for the first time, immediately attracted attention and has since consolidated his position in the public consciousness year after year, until the decisive breakthrough came at the town hall exhibition last October. It became quite clear there that we got a Skåne artist of original skill and considerable measure, and the exhibition, which is now taking place in Anderberg's art shop, underlines that fact with even more force.

Gottfrid Olsson is a very young man. He is still studying at the Art Academy in Stockholm, where his talent earned him the minor gold medal last spring. He has always given the impression of a personality who has something of his own to say, who takes art seriously and does not want to appear without the most thorough preparations. Studies and originality are happily united in him. His art possesses the inner resonance and the outer charm which must speak to all, and it has been quite some time since a new-found power came to us of the calibre of him.

A new temperament and a new way of expression, both characterised by fine culture, have been added to our Scanian art through Gottfrid Olsson, and he is well deserving of the hearty welcome accorded to him both by the discerning connoisseurs and by the general public. All seem for once to agree, the pleasure and skill of these paintings silence the objections. When Gottfrid Olsson's paintings hung among others, they undeniably formed a pleasant break from the eternal and united cottage knots, field meadows and heather slopes, in which our painters perhaps too much read their imagination.

Gottfrid Olsson is as good a Skåne as anyone, but he has his own eyes, his own brush, his own colours and his own way of treating them. He comes up with something new, but he is hardly a modernist in the usual sense, and by no means does he offer anything shocking. It is probably age-old ideals that he goes back to. Skåne's land and people on the one hand and Holland's on the other have been said to have many points of contact with each other from age, and when Gottfrid Olsson nurtured his taste and means of expression in the old Dutch school, he has not at all been in need for that - was forced to renounce his Scanian home jurisdiction.

His simple, yet so refined gates, yards and village streets have credibility, and you feel that it can certainly also be seen and painted in good Scanian. Gottfrid Olsson is a Skåne and a Dutchman at once and also himself as a figure painter. He has a type-setting ability, which can be accomplished a lot in his broad, safe humour.

‘Woodcutter’, a picture from something earlier stage, is a model study, the various figures in ‘Home from the bait’ are set in with a simply admirable form and colour, and there is, carefully counted, not one of these paintings that does not speak beautifully of the already won position of its author and about his possibilities.

The temptation to manners may seem to lie quite close to Gottfrid Olsson, but he has not fallen for it. His exquisite manner of painting with the lustre of enamel is personally and personally winning. Like a Klein artist, he appears perhaps in some ways, but as an artist who understands how to get something of greatness into even the small. See e.g. on his breathtaking still life pictures or the fine lady portrait study! Divination should be avoided, and here it is hardly necessary either.

Gottfrid Olsson is already a painter to be reckoned with. More pleasant than casting horoscopes is expressing the hope that circumstances will allow him to fulfil what he so richly promises.”

Review published in Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

“Dr. Anderberg finished in his gamia room with an exhibition of one of the future men of Scanian art, Gottfrid Olsson. In the new place, he starts with his friend and comrade, Gerhard Vihlborg. Just as quickly as Gottfrid Olsson, Vihlborg has acquired land and fortified it. Both have had Skane's art association as intermediary. One and the other have immediately made themselves known, and through them Kåseberga School has even become an institution to be reckoned with. They brought a peculiar freshness, and the break they prepared in the old monotony was appreciated by the art-minded public for its value.

To some extent, Gottfrid Olsson and Vihlborg are alike. They both experiment with at least a new colour treatment down here, which almost seems to refer to something of the effect of enamel painting, and in the form they strive for the simplification of lines and surface plans, a certain straightness, which, however, is almost nothing at all to do with Cubism.

Perhaps Gottfrid Olsson is the one of the two who has the most sense of the picturesque, while Vihlborg may see bigger and deeper. The canvases that he has hung at Anderbergs give good testimony of solidity; here there is no trace of fraud, and even the one who puts on the strongest armour against modernist excesses should not be inaccessible.”


Married Birgit Ingeborg Larsson in Röstånga, Malmöhus.


Died in Röstånga, Skåne.

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