Birger Simonsson

Portrait Of Elsa Bratt

Birger Simonsson

Portrait Of Elsa Bratt

This early 20th-century oil painting by Swedish artist Birger Simonsson (1883-1938) depicts Mrs Elsa Bratt.

Simonsson was a vital cog in the evolution of Swedish Modernism and trained under Matisse in Paris. Numerous Scandinavians headed to the French capital to study at the unorthodox Academie Matisse but the master only personally taught for one year - finding the commitment tiring and onerous. It’s said that he was difficult to please and urged his students to strive for originality and purpose rather than simply fit in with current trends. Each week he’d critique his students’ work, which many found nerve-shattering but rewarding.

Here, we see a product of the Academie Matisse, Simonsson’s training in action. But in addition, he’s blending his own ideas. It’s a remarkable piece, he’s captured a sense of the sitter’s underlying character. It’s a portrait that extends beyond the aesthetic.

Our ancestry searches discovered an Elsa Bratt (1905-1997) living in Stockholm during the 1930s. Her husband was Lennart Bratt (1903-2001), the CEO of the Swedish Employers' Association.

Signed/dated lower right. Unframed but would hang nicely as a canvas.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 25½” x 32” / 65cm x 81cm
Year of creation: 1930
Labels & Inscriptions: Inscribed with sitter’s name on reverse.
Provenance: Artist’s family.
Condition: Artwork presents well.
Artist’s auction maximum: £5,662

Birger Simonsson

Birger Simonsson

Birger Simonsson was an important contributor to Swedish modernism and known predominantly for portraits, figures, and landscapes. He trained at the Académie Matisse in Paris and was the leading figure in the progressive art group ‘De Unga’, of which Isaac Grünewald (1889-1946) was a member. His works are held in numerous public collections including at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Gothenburg Museum of Art, and the National Museum in Stockholm.

Learn more about Birger Simonsson in our directory.

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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