Domesticated Paintings: The Role of Fine Art in Swedish Interiors, 1880-1910

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: History of Art


The aim of this research is to examine the presence of fine art objects (primarily paintings and
reproductions thereof) in Swedish domestic settings around 1900, and to investigate the role assigned to
this type of visual art by considering contemporary discourses on the modern home, nationhood and
cultural reform. Specifically, these aspects will be viewed within the context of the emergence of the
interior as a concept in late-nineteenth-century European culture, including the new emphasis placed on
the decorative arts and on Arts and Crafts ideals. The main research question is why Swedish
intellectuals and artists so actively promoted the inclusion of paintings and other forms of visual art in
domestic setting, why they conceived this as both a social and moral task, and how they worked toward
the realisation of their goal. Furthermore, while there are some precedents set by Britain and France, the
study asks how these sentiments were developed locally in Sweden, thereby instigating an exploration of
alternative models for researching Swedish art and design histories. Taking its point of departure in the
writings by influential figures like the Swedish writer Ellen Key and art historian Carl G. Laurin, this study
explore Sweden's neighbouring country Denmark as a likely source of inspiration for Key and Laurin's
quest for beauty and the impact they believed art could have on all levels of society.


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