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The Scandinavian Artists’ Lunch at Café Ledoyen, Paris: Varnishing Day 1886
  • Artist Hugo Birger (Swedish, 1854 - 1887)
  • TitleThe Scandinavian Artists’ Lunch at Café Ledoyen, Paris: Varnishing Day 1886
  • Dating 1886
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions183,5 x 261,5 cm
    Ram: 203 x 281 cm
  • AcquisitionPurchased with funds from Pontus Fürstenberg, 1887
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberGKM 0204
  • Display StatusOn display in The Fürstenberg Gallery I (Room 16)
Signatures etc.
Exhibition History
The scene is a celebration lunch at the Café Ledoyen, round the back of the Petit Palais near the Champs-Elysées, where the Nordic artists usually gathered on the first day of the Salon. The focus of the party is the Finnish sculptor Ville Vallgren, who had received an honourable mention at the Salon. The characters in the foreground of the painting are, from the left, Allan Österlind (lighting a cigarette), Count Christer »Pirre« Horn (standing), Per Hasselberg (with raised coffee cup), the artist’s wife Mathilda Birger (with her back to us, partially obscured), an unknown French female model, and the artist’s father, the lithographer Sven August Peterson (standing, leaning forward with a bottle of champagne). Standing around the central table are, from the left, Hugo Birger himself (with red hair and beard, raising a glass), Alfred Wahlberg, Ville Vallgren (the hero of the hour, standing on a chair with a napkin tied around his neck and outstretched glass), Johan Christian Janzon (»Spada«, with raised glass), Robert Thegerström (in a top hat, clinking glasses with Vallgren), Albert Edelfelt, and, on the far right, Hugo Salmson (taking off his gloves, standing next to a man with his back to us). Sitting around the central table are, from the left, Ukke Dyberg, Antoinette Vallgren, Carl Larsson, Georg Pauli, Ernst Josephson, Gerda Hagborg, August Hagborg, and an unknown French model, who has turned to meet our gaze. The Scandinavian Artists’ Lunch at Café Ledoyen, Paris was a challenge for Birger, whose rheumatism and incipient tuberculosis posed considerable obstacles. In just over four months, the work was finished. The painting was submitted to the Salon, but was hung above a door and did not meet with the hoped-for success. Yet when the work was exhibited at the Artists’ Association’s first exhibition in Stockholm in 1886 it was much admired.

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