Swedish Art in Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum

After some 5 years of renovation the gallery of the nation was ready to reopen its doors to the world. This is Stockholm’s most important art gallery.

It was first created at the Royal Museum and filled with donations from the royalty and nobility (King Gustav III and Carl Tessin), in 1792 and rebuilt to its current form in 1866. The exterior of the building is very Swedish in its concept (although North Italian Renaissance in archtecture), it gave no hint of the opulence hidden within and belied the sheer size of the museum.

It has to be big, half a million art pieces belong to the collection within the museum and date from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The 5 year renovation cost some 130 million USD to improve security and environmental control to ensure that these timeless pieces would remain in good condition over time.

It has been a huge draw since it reopened, and why not – its free and filled with great Swedish art, from paintings,

to sculptures,

to embroidery.

In general, the piece de resistance in terms of artistic worth is the collection works by the Dutch great Rembrandt van Rijn including The Kitchen Maid, Simeon’s Song of Praise and the Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis.

Obviously perhaps the greatest work by Rembrandt (The Night Watch) is not located in Stockholm but Amsterdam, where it should be.

Still, however, Rembrandt for all his fame and the amazing quality of his work does not typify and exemplify Swedish art. To me at least, it is the work of the 18th century to the modern age, that best describes Swedish art – pieces which focused on a descriptive and emotive aspect of art (a great collection can also be found in Gothenburg at the Konstmuseum).

Works by painters such as Anders Zorn, for example and before him Carl Frederik von Breda.

For those pieces, I’d go back to this gallery again and again.


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