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The Breakthrough of Liberalism in High Society
  • Artist Peter Dahl (Swedish, 1934 - 2019)
  • TitleThe Breakthrough of Liberalism in High Society
  • Dating 1970
  • Technique/MaterialOil on canvas
  • Dimensions92 x 100 cm
  • AcquisitionPurchase, 1987
  • CategoryOil painting
  • Inventory NumberGKM 2195
  • Rights and ReproductionPeter Dahl/BUS 2014©
  • Display StatusNot shown in the museum
Signatures etc.
Exhibition History
Peter Dahl (born 1935) developed a fluid, figurative painting in the Baroque tradition of Rubens. In the 1960s, he used it to paint political subject matter, such as incarcerated bodies. Dahl became a popular figure in Sweden in the early 1980s with a series of pictures based on the eighteenth-century poet and songwriter Carl Michael Bellman’s Fredman’s Epistles. Things had been rather different back in 1970, when he showed paintings from his series Dreams in the Corner of the Sofa at the exhibition Horror at Gothenburg Art Gallery. The series shows a middle-class couple sitting at home on the sofa and fantasizing about what it would be like to be invited to dinner with the boss and all the celebrities they would meet as a result. One of the images, Liberalism’s Breakthrough in High Society, shows Princess Sibylla, mother of the future king of Sweden, pulling up the dress and baring all to a man with exposed and erect penis. The police confiscated the painting during the exhibition after it was reported. The prosecution was dropped, but the picture, as well as the steps taken to censor it, was debated in the newspapers. The full suite of pictures looks at the radical Left’s romantic dreams of revolution with a jaundiced eye, for as the woman sneers to her husband, »You wouldn’t even dare throw an egg!« The painting is a satire of the new open-mindedness that Dahl had seen in the upper classes.

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