August Malmström

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August Malmström
August Malmström.JPG
Born Johan August Malmström
14 October 1829 (1829-10-14)
Motala, Sweden
Died 18 October 1901 (1901-10-19)
Stockholm, Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Education Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, Stockholm
Known for Painting

Johan August Malmström (14 October 1829 – 18 October 1901) was a Swedish painter and professor at the Swedish Academy of Arts from 1867 to 1894 and the manager of the same institution from 1887 to 1893. Attracted by gothicismus he collected motives from Norse mythology. He is also appreciated for his country motives with children. His most known work is Grindslanten, which as many of his other pictures spread throughout Sweden via magazines. He was a diligent illustrator and worked for several newspapers and book publishing houses. He made illustrations for the books Frithiofs saga and Fänrik Ståls sägner.

Malmström also made tableware for Gustavsberg, designed furnitures and worked as a pattern drawer.


Childhood and youth[edit]

August Malmström was born on 14 October 1829 at the cottage Nubbekullen in Västra Ny parish within the municipality of Motala. Nubbekullen is today a local museum. His father was a carpenter and ornamental sculptor who managed a small farm. August, together with his brother, helped his father with agriculture and woodwork. Among other works they made ornaments for altarpieces and pulpits to churches. Both parents encouraged August in his choice of life. His mother was interested literature, which evoked his interest in history. He showed early interest in drawing and painting. An injury in his right hand which never cured properly exempted him from hard work and gave him even more time to spend on arts. In his teens he was skilled enough to support his family, he made och sold so called tablets, colored pictures which was given away as presents on birthdays and name days. His parents recognized his talent and sold their only ox to finance his studies in Stockholm.

At the Academy of Arts[edit]

Dancing Fairies
A study for the Dancing Fairies

Malmström came to Stockholm with 27 Swedish riksdaler in his pocket and applied for admission at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. It was first with the help of the elder painter Nils Andersson that he managed to be accepted and thus on 3 November 1849 he was registered at the academy's ground school. Already at the beginning his talent attracted attention and his study period was marked by rewards of all sorts. The academy had painting contests every year with given themes and Malmström was probably the most diligent participant. For the 1855 year contest "Konung Gustaf II Adolfs lifsfara i träffningen vid Wittsjö" ("King Gustaf II Adolf in mortal danger at the battle of Wittsjö") he was the only student to submit a contribution. However they considered that his work was "not in a good condition to be rewarded". A growing problem the academy faced was that more and more students left the academy for studies in Düsseldorf (see: Düsseldorf school of painting). Also Malmström followed the trend and went there the year 1856. He considered the academy's education as insufficient and at the same time his economic situation became gradually better. Besides scholarships and picture sales, he earned incomes from portrait orders and restoration tasks.

Düsseldorf 1856-1857[edit]

There exists no proofs that Malmström took part in any education in the city, he presumably pursued studies on his on hand. Already during autumn 1856 he send home his first painting "King Heimer and Aslög" from Düsseldorf and during spring 1857 he then send home "Ragnar Lodbroks sons receive information about their father's death". Both of these works impressed the Swedish Academy and during theirs exhibition the painting "King Heimer and Aslög" was rewarded with the Royal Medal. Thereby the Academy had the possibility to give Malmström travel scholarships, which happened on 2 October. The grant and several painting sales meant that he was financially secured for many years forward. He is associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting.

Paris 1857-1859[edit]

In 1857 Malmström travelled together with Mårten Eskil Winge to Paris. Winge was a good friend of Malmström and also he received a travel scholarship. Besides diligent studies at the museums they were students to Thomas Couture who had a solid reputation as a skilful teacher that taught a number of Swedish students. Couture became 1856 an honoured member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. Malmström returned 1858 to Düsseldorf to complete "Vikingar på stranden" ("Vikings at shore") together with the Norwegian painter Hans Fredrik Gude but soon travelled back to Paris. Regulations for travel scholarships prescribed that a copy of a work by a great master should be made. The choice fell on Titian's painting "Christ Crowned with Thorns", this because other works by Titian were already and constantly occupied by others, in some cases for many years.

Italy 1859-1860[edit]

According to the instructions for both holders of the travel scholarship the Academy stated that after a year of residence in Paris they should take a travel to Italy. First after two years in Paris Winge and Malmström went southwards during the end of 1859. Much to his indignation Malmström got a rejection to his application to copy Rafael's works in the Vactican, instead he made some copies of Rafael's and Titian's works in Palazzo Borghese.