Art History’s Winter Scenes – Gustaf Fjæstad

Have you heard of Gustaf Fjæstad? If you have, you’re probably Swedish.

Fjæstad was a Swedish painter who lived between 1868 and 1948. He’s celebrated in Sweden but little known outside his home country.

Fjaestad’s trademark was the winter scene. He painted snow-covered forests, frozen lakes, and glistening winter skies.

In 1912 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote about his work: “His fir forests heavy-laden with white, his crested snow drifts, his mountain torrents, hemmed with ice, all portray in his own masterful and original manner the strangely delicate beauty of the terrible Swedish winter”.

Fjæstad worked in quite a specific way – he primed his canvas with light sensitive chemicals and projected a photograph onto the canvas as a guide.

Isn’t that cheating?!

Well, maybe a little.
But many artists used photography as an aid in the 19th Century.

After he’d finished this process, Fjæstad began to embellish the work and add his own style. This would often consist of a form of pointillism – using lots of tiny dots to give an overall impression.

In this luminous work, ‘Winter Landscape with Frozen Lake’, blues, greys, pink and oranges combine to give a sense of a magical winter’s afternoon.

Fjæstad certainly had a very decorative approach, and this extended beyond painting to include furniture and tapestry designs. He became a prominent part of the Swedish Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th and early 20th Century.

His delicate visions of winter are filled with pale, glowing light that emanates from the canvas. These are highly romantic interpretations of his beloved Sweden. When looking at his paintings, one can almost imagine standing in the wild, snow covered forests of this shimmering land.

If you are interested in finding out more about Art History, why not join one of my Live Online Art History Lectures or Courses? Visit the online talks page to see my list of upcoming live talks.

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