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The Forest
  • Artist Prins Eugen (Swedish, 1865 - 1947)
  • TitleThe Forest
  • Dating 1892
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions150 x 100,5 cm
  • AcquisitionBequest of Pontus and Göthilda Fürstenberg, 1902
  • Art MovementNational romanticism
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberF 27
  • Display StatusOn display in Nordic Art 1880-1910 I (Room 20)
Description
Signatures etc.
Exhibition History
Bibliography
The viewer finds himself standing in a dark forest, surrounded by tall, straight pines whose trunks gleam purple in the dim light. The view is strongly curtailed; not a hint of sky to be seen. The forest seems almost impenetrable. A few vertical streaks of orange can be glimpsed far in among the trees. The tree trunks are bare, with only the suggestion of a few branches in this, Nature’s cathedral. The painting resonates with a melancholy tone that places it with 1890s’ Symbolism and Nordic National Romanticism. It is redolent of human loneliness and insignificance. But in the midst of all the romanticization of Nature, there is also the strict, rhythmic disposition of the scattered tree trunks. The Forest numbers among Swedish landscape painting’s most evocative images, and is one of Prince Eugen’s most significant works. Not least, the painting proved crucial to the Varberg School’s Symbolist brand of nature painting in the 1890s. Richard Bergh wrote admiringly about it in a letter to Karl Nordström in 1892, »God bless him. A pine forest in evening shadow: still a few glimpses of the evening sun between the tall, straight, bluing stems, which resemble a thousand majestic pillars in a church without limit—in Nature’s own great temple … damned if there is not a single cross-branch on any of the pines—he, that boy prince, has realized that they would disrupt the wider decorative-ornamental impression—devil take the lad, his Royal Highness—so he has gone and corrected God the Father’s own work and knocked off all the branches.« The Forest was painted during Prince Eugen’s stay in Södermanland at the Celsing family’s Fjällskäfte Manor, which he visited in the late summer of 1892. On the estate, he found a pleasing glade in the woods that became a recurring motif during his stay, including in this painting. The Forest was shown in the Swedish pavilion at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and was given by the Prince to Pontus Fürstenberg in 1895.

Kristoffer Arvidsson from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014