oil paint on wood panel unframed 12 x 22 cm framed 21.5 x 31.5 cm
Provenance: It was given as a gift from his widow Ellen Hintze to relatives of Carl Skånberg.
Essay: Carl Skånberg is known for his delicate brushwork that echoed the early influence of Impressionism in Swedish art, Skånberg's work typically carries a certain mystique and emotional depth.
In this probable French landscape, Skånberg employs a monochromatic gray scale with hints of a faintly blue sky, reminiscent of the Grisaille technique. With simple, thin brush strokes, he painted a landscape that invites contemplation and introspection. The silhouette of a lone man walking in the middle of the painting adds a narrative element, while the sparse trees add to the composition's solitude. The visible snaking trail of the brush across the canvas speaks to the artist’s method and the physical act of painting.
Carl Skånberg, born on June 12, 1850, in Norrköping, Sweden, overcame personal hardships and societal obstacles to become a prolific painter, despite a serious illness that caused him great suffering. His determination to study and excel in the art led him from a painter's workshop in Stockholm to the influential circles of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and eventually to the artistic meccas of Paris and Italy. Skånberg’s life was rich with experiences that were as diverse as his friendships with prominent artists of his time such as Ernst Josephson, Carl Fredrik Hill och Carl Larsson.
Carl Skånberg's life, though marked by his remarkable artistic contributions, was also touched by personal moments of both joy and sorrow. In 1881, seeking a reprieve for his health, Skånberg traveled to Italy—a country renowned for its inspiring landscapes and rich cultural heritage. It was there, amidst the historic beauty of Rome, that he encountered Ellen Hintze. Their meeting, likely at a Scandinavian social club—a haven for expatriates and artists alike—blossomed into love, culminating in marriage at the Consulate with the notable playwright Henrik Ibsen among the guests, a testament to the vibrant Scandinavian community that thrived in Italy during that period.
However, this joyous occasion was shadowed by Skånberg's declining health. Afflicted by Pott's disease since childhood, the artist suffered from respiratory complications, which were further exacerbated by his smoking habit. The hope that Italy's milder climate would provide relief was short-lived. Plagued by relentless asthma attacks, Skånberg was compelled to return to Sweden for treatment.
Despite the best efforts of his doctor, Axel Munthe—an esteemed physician known for his work with respiratory illnesses—Skånberg's health continued to deteriorate. The young artist's life was cut tragically short when he passed away in Stockholm, merely six months after his return from Italy and at the age of 32.
Skånberg's landscapes, coastal scenes, and later Italian-inspired works are a testament to his enduring spirit and artistic legacy, with his paintings being displayed in prominent museums such as the Nordiska museet, Nationalmuseum, and Göteborgs konstmuseum.
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