Carl Larsson, The Swedish Painter – His Early Years

Carl Larsson is known the world over for his beautiful paintings, showing his loving family and the idyllic Swedish country life he and his family lived. The color palette and the light that gives this artist his unique and charming style, made his paintings stand out from the other dark and over-opulence Victorian era that rule at that time. When looking at the light and the joyful colors Carl Larsson used in his paintings, it is quite remarkable to find out he had such a dark and unhappy childhood.

Carl Larsson's Difficult Childhood

The painter was born in 1853, into a family of poverty and misery with a father that drank and showed no sympathy or love toward his son, and a mother that worked endlessly long hours as laundress to support the family. As a boy, Carl had to listen to his fathers constant outburst "I curse the day you were born" towards him, that greeted lifelong anger in Carl towards his father.

After some years the parents split up, and the mother with her two children, moved into a slum housing district in Stockholm. The family had to share a small room with two other families. The living quarters were extremely poverty-stricken and the environment was filthy and a breeding ground for cholera and other diseases.

The Academy of Fine Arts

Carl's talent as an artist showed very early in his life. At the age of thirteen, his teacher, recommended him to apply to the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. The boy got admitted, but he did not adjust well and felt both awkward and socially inferior. It was not until some years later, at the age of sixteen, he gained confidence when he got promoted to the "antique school" of the same academy. During his years as a student he also worked hard to support the family with its everyday needs. Carl worked as a graphic artist for the newspaper Ny illustrurad tidning, as well as a caricaturist for the humorous paper Kasper.

Follow the Path to Paris

At the age of twenty-four, Carl left Sweden to follow the same path as so many other aspiring Swedish artists at that time and moved to Paris. However, Carl did not live an easy life. Days, weeks and years of hard work and constant struggle filled the young artist's life without any fortune, luck or recognition.

It was not until 1882, at the age of twenty-nine, Carl Larsson's life should finally take a turn to the better when he met the six-year younger Swedish artist Karin Berg. This was the beginning of a life filled with love, happiness and sheer bliss, that we are so familiar with in Carl Larssons wonderful paintings.

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