19th-Century Swedish School

Bonadsmålning, Nativity

19th-Century Swedish School

Bonadsmålning, Nativity

This 19th-century Swedish folk art painting depicts a nativity scene with three wise men bearing gifts.

It’s known as a ‘bonadsmålning’, a form of festive wall decoration for simple rural homes.


Imagine, if you can, that you’re a Swedish farmer in the early 19th century. It’s December, and your simple rustic cottage is overrun with several young children excited for the forthcoming festive season. For each year, together with your wife, you transform the cold stone interior into a magical grotto of gold, green and red. Homemade wooden decorations are placed in nooks, while the walls are adorned with long, locally-made, festive artwork depicting religious scenes, such as the nativity.


Bonadsmålnings have a long history stemming from the Middle Ages but reached popularity between 1750 and 1850. Initially created on fabric, these unusual tapestry-esque ensembles were designed by local craftsmen in order to decorate rural Swedish homes. They were by the people and for the people. Over time, several ‘schools’ emerged as leading the way in terms of design and decorative appeal. These were the Unnaryd School founded by soldier Nils Lundbergh (1718-1788), the Breared School led by Johannes Nilsson (1757-1827), Åsskolan School of Anders Eriksson (1774-1855), and the Sunnerboskolan School of Nils Persson (1772-1836).

Today, due to the increasing popularity of folk art, bonadsmålnings are once again becoming a sought-after element of decorative furnishing. But, this time, they hang proudly on walls throughout the seasons.

Held within a contemporary glazed frame.

Due to its size, it’s only available for UK delivery.

Medium: Tempera on paper
Overall size: 73” x 19” / 187cm x 48cm
Year of creation: c. 1840
Condition: Various abrasions, tears, losses and age-related darkening. But overall, the piece works well as an interesting decorative item. Framed well.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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