Fürstenberg in town…?!

furstenberg_natteffekt2007.10.29 – 2008.03.16

For the first and with all probability only time you could find a large selection of the finest collection of Nordic art from the late 19th century from the Gothenburg Art Museum, shown in Stockholm.

The Jewish Museum in Stockholm was given a unique chance to borrow this excellent collection of key works painted by our national artists since the Gothenburg Art Museum was closing the gallery for a period of time due to among other things installing new climate system.

The exhibition ”Fürstenberg in town…?!”, at the Jewish Museum in Stockholm showed 16 works by Vilhelm Hammershøi, Ernst Josephson, Christian Krogh, Carl Larsson, Bruno Liljefors, Erik Werenskiold, Carl Wilhelmson och Anders Zorn.

The exhibition didn’t only show the epoch-making pieces of art but also described several Swedish Jewish patrons’ personal contributions and their great importance for the Swedish art and cultural life.

Yvonne Jacobsson
Museum Director

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The Fürstenberg Gallery

Fürstenberg’s second collecting period coincided with the turbulent time when the oppositional young artists – known as “Opponents” – were taking centre stage in the Swedish art world. New winds from France blew during the 1870s, reaching all the way to Scandinavia and flushing out the old, accepted values. Pontus Fürstenberg succumbed to this enthusiasm and he and his wife Göthilda regularly opened their home – and their kitchen – to a diverse group of artists. /…/ In the summer of 1883 they had both travelled to Copenhagen with their relation the painter Ernst Josephson and had visited some highly impressive private collections in the Danish capital. /…/ These collections inspired them to continue with their plans to extend their house.

In January 1885 the T-shaped gallery in neo-Renaissance style with a floor area of almost 2000 square feet was completed. It housed the country’s largest collection of contemporary art. The Fürstenbergs could now open their doors to interested visitors and proudly show off the art that they had purchased from artists or from exhibitions. Visitors were mainly from the upper classes of Gothenburg society and they filled in their names, occupations and addresses in a visitors’ book. During the first year some 900 such visitors neatly wrote their names in the book. For Pontus Fürstenberg, the newly opened gallery formed part of his own social aims and his success in this direction was further confirmed when he was appointed an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. This was naturally severely criticized by the “Opponents” who were arch-enemies of the Academy. Pontus Fürstenberg was also presented with an honorary doctorate by Lund University.

When Pontus Fürstenberg made his last major acquisition of Richard Berg’s grandiose romantic nationalist painting Nordic Summer Evening (1899-1900) his collection numbered some 260 works. His protégés had returned to Stockholm and established themselves there or in their native districts. Though Gothenburg was in a period of growth at the time – numbering 130,000 inhabitants at the turn of the century – it had lost its position as the country’s art capital.

But thanks to the Fürstenbergs’ donation, Gothenburg gained a unique documentation of trends in art in the 19th century. At their deaths – Göthilda died in 1901 and Pontus in the following year – their wide-ranging collection was passed to the Municipality of Gothenburg so that, in accordance with the wishes of the testator, it could be shown in its entirety to visitors.

Konstens Göteborg,
Nedslag i fyra sekel
Göteborgs Konstmuseum

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Pontus and Göthilda Fürstenberg

In the history of the arts in Sweden there are notable examples of the influence that patrons have exercised through their personal efforts and the financial support which they have given to artists. In the visual arts, the contributions of Pontus and Göthilda Fürstenberg and Ernest Thiel were particularly important. Without the interest they showed and their financial generosity, many artists would never have had an opportunity of developing professionally and various major cultural institutions would not have been founded.

During the latter half of the 19th century, Gothenburg enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth and this provided a fertile soil for youthful ideas in art. Indeed, Gothenburg became an arena for radical art. Huge fortunes were being amassed in the city during this period of intense industrial development. It was largely in this period that Pontus Fürstenberg made his vital contribution as a collector and patron of the arts.

Pontus Fürstenberg’s grandfather Abraham Levi came to Sweden from Germany and was one of the early Jewish immigrants who was granted permission to settle in Sweden. Pontus’s father, Levi, took the name Fürstenberg from the family’s native city in Mecklenburg. He settled in Gothenburg in the 1830s and ran a profitable textile business. Many of the Fürstenberg family’s friends were wealthy Jewish families such as the Heymans, Levissons, Warburgs and the Magnus family. Eduard Magnus had made a considerable fortune as the founder of Gothenburg’s private bank and as one of the owners of the Carnegie Sugar Refinery. Pontus Fürstenberg and Göthilda Magnus had planned a future together at a very early age. But many years were to pass before their wishes were fulfilled. Eduard Magnus was opposed to the marriage between the manufacturer Pontus Fürstenberg and his own daughter Göthilda and it was not until 1880, when Göthilda’s father had already been dead for more than a year, that they were married. Pontus and Göthilda had then reached the respective ages of 53 and 43.

Göthilda’s inheritance included a palatial house in Gothenburg on Södra Hamngatan by the park and a fortune of 4 million Swedish kronor. The couple settled in the house which also served as a gallery for their growing collection of art. Numerous artists stayed in their home for longer or shorter periods, and many went abroad with financial support from the Fürstenbergs.

Pontus Fürstenberg purchased his first works of art in the 1860s but his collecting really intensified during the 1880s when he began to take a strong interest in the Swedish painters who had spent time in France; among them Carl Larsson, Ernst Josephson, Anders Zorn and Bruno Liljefors.

After Pontus Fürstenberg’s death the gallery was moved to the Gothenburg Art Museum. There was no stipulation in the will that the collection should remain in the Fürstenberg’s home.

The Fürstenberg Collection is one of the finest collections of late 19th century and early 20th century Nordic art with works by many of Scandinavia’s leading artists.

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Ernest Thiel + andra mecenater

Examples of Jewish patrons in Sweden

Ernest Thiel (1859-1947)
Ernest Thiel’s father was a Walloon while his mother was Jewish. The family moved to Stockholm from Norrköping in 1867 when his father, Jacques Thiel, went into partnership with his brother in law Jakob Stieble in the firm of B. Leja.

Ernest Thiel was first married to Anna Josephson, a cousin of the artist Ernst Josephson. In 1897 their divorce was decreed on the grounds of Ernest Thiel’s liaison with a widow named Signe Hansen whom he later married.

Banker Ernest Thiel laid the foundation of his art collection by purchasing Bruno Liljefors’s painting Morgonstämning [Morning Mood] in 1896. In 1901 he acquired a number of works at the Society of Artists’s annual exhibition and in the following year a further 19 works. In 1905 Ernest Thiel was introduced to Edvard Munch and both men immediately established an understanding which led to §Thiel buying a number of paintings from the Norwegian artist. Just as with the Fürstenbergs, Ernst Thiel’s feeling for art and his knowledge of the subject increased over the years.

The Thiel family’s apartment on Strandvägen was not large enough to house all of this art and Ernest Thiel started to look for a suitable site for a house. The beautiful and spacious house that Ferdinand Boberg designed for him on Djurgården was to be a home as well as a gallery for his increasingly large art collection. Building work finished in 1905 and the house was officially opened in 1907.

World War I played havoc with Ernest Thiel’s finances and by 1922 he was ruined. In 1924 the government purchased his home, Thielska Galleriet, and two years later the building was opened to the public after a number of paintings had been sold, some of them abroad.

Listed below are the names of some patrons with a Jewish background who made contributions in the 19th and 20 centuries to such diverse fields as art, health care, welfare, social issues, science, research, etc.

Margit Lamm (1895-1978), Stockholm
A memorial fund for study abroad by library staff working in Stockholm. A capital sum of 200 000 Swedish kronor was set aside in 1979 and has since grown to some 4-5 million kronor in the 21st century. The return on this money, throughout the 1990s and up to the present, has been about 250 000 kronor per year.

August Abrahamson (1817-1899) och Otto Salamon (1849-1907). Nääs
Started a craft school for boys and girls.

Eva Fredrika Bonnier (1857-1909) Stockholm
From 1903 she annually contributed 10 000 Swedish kronor for artistic decoration of public places and public buildings in Stockholm. Among her donations are Carl Milles’s sculpture of Playing Bears at Berzelii Park and Carl Eldh’s fountain on Birger Jarlsgatan.

Clara Lachmann (1864-1920) Ystad
In her will of 26 March 1920 Clara Lachmann stipulated that her capital fund amounting to about two million Swedish kronor should be used for promoting Scandinavian unity.

Isaak Hirsch (1843-1917) Stockholm
Donated more than 10 million Swedish kronor for charitable purposes including the provision of housing for poor sick families.

Anton Natanael Ruben (1846-1922) Karlskrona
Made very large donations including a gift of money to the Municipality of Karlskrona for health-care needs.

Felix Neubergh (1896-1995) Göteborg
Felix Neubergh donated 40 million Swedish kronor from his estensive foundations to travel bursaries and a fund for development grants for artists well as for the care of the elderly.

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Bilder i utställningen

furstenberg_natteffekt

”Natteffekt”
by Anders Zorn, 1895.
Oil on canvas 161 x 106 cm.
furstenberg_galleriet

”Interior of the Fürstenberg Gallery”
by Carl Larsson, 1885
Watercolour on paper, 78 x 56,5 cm

In the same year that the gallery was opened, Carl Larsson produced this little watercolour depicting the interior of the Fürstenberg Gallery. /…/ Carl Larsson and Ernst Josephson were invited to stay with the Fürstenbergs while painting their portraits; a task that required time and patience. There is a sense of stillness and concentration in the gallery. Though Ernst Josephson wrote to his friend Per Hasselberg that “Larsson is busy painting an interior of the gallery with Snowflake as the centrepiece. I am busy with our hostess. We have a lively time here and Pontus keeps us laughing with his hocus-pocus humour which is wittier than ever”.”

furstenberg_sangkammaren

“I sängkammaren”
by Vilhelms Hammershøi

furstenberg_pf

“Pontus Fürstenberg”
by Ernst Josephson

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