Oscarsson, Bernhard (1894-1977)

Oscarsson, Bernhard (1894-1977)

Swedish artist Bernhard Oscarsson produced a considerable collection of landscape and genre scenes during his life-long career. Oscarsson often depicted scenes of everyday rural life in Sweden, something perhaps influenced by his upbringing on his father’s farm.

This genre of painting had grown popular in the 19th-Century, especially with the work of Anders Zorn (1860-1920) and Carl Larsson (1853-1919).

Oscarsson’s painting of a ‘dalkulla,’ an unmarried woman from the countryside, is incredibly evocative of the work of Zorn. The lighter colours applied to a fisherman inspecting his catch upon the harbour, the sea a serene wash of blue, recalls Larsson’s own palette. Oscarsson’s training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts under Axel Tallberg (1860-1928), a follower of Carlsson, surely introduced him to the customs of Swedish art.

Oscarsson’s time at the Academy in Stockholm was inspirational in various ways. The capital seems to have captured his imagination and held it hostage. The great majority of his oeuvre is composed of fine scenes of the Stockholm landscape. It is here we see some interesting experimentation with different styles.

Realism and astute attention to detail capture the city in one painting, and in the next, a looser, more impressionistic brush creates buildings in a stroke.

At the time Sweden was looking to Europe for new styles. Zorn had been dubbed the ‘Swedish impressionist,’ taking inspiration from the French founders of the movement. Perhaps Oscarsson was inspired by Zorn in more ways than just subject matter. Indeed, it seems Oscarsson was an active part of this movement. He exhibited regularly as part of the Uppsala Group, a group of artists with an interest in experimenting with more modern styles of painting in the early 20th-Century. He also spent some time travelling throughout Europe, so perhaps he became inspired by these trips.

Oscarsson seems to have defined his own style of painting betwixt both Swedish familiarity and ventures into the European, cultivating a unique sense of his painterly style. Either way, his works cultivate emotion and his scenes of Stockholm never fail to capture the vivacity of a living city.

1894

Born in Lids parish, Södermanland.

1917-1918

Studied at Althin’s Painting School.

1919-1921

Studied at the Swedish Academy of Fine Arts.

1920

Awarded the Chancellor’s Medal.

1921

Awarded the Royal Medal.

1948

Married Wilhelmina Essen.

1977

Died. Buried Karlslunds Kyrkogård, Nora.

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