John Bauer (illustrator)

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John Bauer
John Bauer artist Sweden.jpg
Born John Albert Bauer
(1882-06-04)4 June 1882
Jönköping, Sweden
Died 20 November 1918(1918-11-20) (aged 36)
Vättern, Sweden
Nationality Swedish
Education Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, Stockholm
Known for Illustration
Notable work(s) Tuvstarr gazes into the water
The Fairy princess
Saint Martin, the Holy
Movement Romantic nationalism
Awards Medal of honor, 1915, San Francisco.

John Albert Bauer (4 June 1882 – 20 November 1918) was a Swedish painter and illustrator. Painting the Swedish landscape, forests, mythical creatures and magical places, he is best known for his illustrations of the children's fairy tales Bland tomtar och troll (Among Gnomes and Trolls).

Bauer was born and raised in Jönköping, the son of a respected food manufacturer. At 16, he moved to Stockholm to study at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. During his years at the academy, he got his first commissions to illustrate stories in books and magazines. He met artist Ester Ellqvist at the academy and they married in 1906. Early on, Bauer traveled to Lappland, Germany and Italy and influences from the cultures he encountered became vital to his works. He was still developing as an artist when, at the age of 36, he, Ester and their son Bengt drowned in a ship wreck on Lake Vättern.

Bauer painted and illustrated in a romantic nationalism style with influences from the Italian renaissance and the Sami culture. Due to the printing techniques at the time, most of his works are prints and watercolors in monochrome or muted colors. He also made major oil paintings and frescos and was in the process of further exploring these techniques when he died.


Early life and education[edit]

John Bauer was born and raised in Jönköping. He was the son of Josef Bauer, man of Bavarian origin, and Emma Charlotta Wadell of a farming family from Rogberga just outside Jönköping.[1][2] Josef Bauer was a practical and determined man who came to Sweden in 1863, without a penny in his pocket. He started and ran a successful charcuterie business at the Östra Torget in Jönköping.[2] The family lived in an apartment situated above the shop until the house at Sjövik was built in 1881, one year before Bauer was born.[3] Bauer lived at the Villa Sjövik by the shore of Lake Rocksjön with his two brothers, one older and one younger. He also had a sister who died at a young age.[2] The place was central to him even long after he left home.[3][4] He had his initial schooling first at the Jönköpings högre allmäna läroverk ("The Jönköping Public School of higher education")[1] followed by Jönköpings tekniska skola ("The Jönköping Technical School")[5] 1892–1898.[1] He spent most of his time at school drawing caricatures of his teachers and daydreaming about stories and tales,[4] something not appreciated by his teachers.[2]

He was always given to sketching and drawing although he had no encouragement from his family in this.[2] But at sixteen, when he wanted to go to Stockholm to study art they backed him wholeheartedly both economically and in spirit.[6] In 1898, he was one of the 40 applicants for studies at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. He was deemed well qualified for a place at the academy, but he was too young to be accepted. He spent the next two years at Kaleb Ahltins school for painters. During this time he was, like most teenagers, torn between hope and despair something that is reflected in his works.[6]

In 1900, he was finally old enough to attend the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, and he was one of the three admitted. The other two were his friends Ivar Kamke and Pontus Lanner.[7] At the academy he mostly studied traditional illustrations and made studies of plants, medieval costumes and croquis, something that would all come together in his later works illustrating Swedish folk sagas.[8] One of his teachers, professor Gustaf Cederström a noted history painter at the time, was full of praise for Bauer:

Gustaf Cederström on Bauer:

His art is what I would call great art, in his almost miniaturized works he gives an impression of something much more powerful than many monumental artists can accomplice on acres of canvas. It is not size that matters but content.[9]

During his years at the academy he received his first commissions illustrating for magazines (e.g. Söndags-Nisse and Snöflingan) and books (e.g. De gyllene böckerna, Ljungars saga and Länge, länge sedan).[10] In 1904 he traveled to Lappland to paint the culture of northern Sweden for a new great book about Lappland and the "exotic wilderness".[11][12] At the end of 1905, he left the academy and put "Artist" on his business card.[13]

Journey to Lappland[edit]

With the discovery of large iron ore deposits in the north of Sweden, Lappland became the new frontier. Having been just an exotic wilderness with the striking Sami culture and the midnight sun, northern Sweden now became synonymous with industry and a prosperous future. In the light of this publisher Carl Adam Victor Lundholm decided to publish a new illustrated book on Lappland called Lappland, det stora svenska framtidslandet ("Lappland, the great Swedish land of the future").[14] He engaged some noted Swedish artists at the time for the illustrations, such as Karl Tirén, Alfred Thörne, Per Daniel Holm and Hjalmar Lindberg. Bauer was the youngest of them all. Lundholm had asked Bauer to participate in illustrating the book, but just to make sure he had made the right decision he sent Bauer to do some 'test drawings' of Sami people at Skansen, something Bauer was very reluctant to do.[15]

On 15 July 1904, Bauer left for Lappland where he stayed for a month. Coming from the dense, dark forests of Småland he was overwhelmed by the open vistas and colorful landscapes. His encounters with the Sami people and their culture became important for his later works. He took many photos, sketched and made notes of all the tools, costumes and objects he saw, but he had some difficulties getting close to the Sami. They were shy and only laughed at him and his camera.[15] In his diary and in the letters home to his family and friends he recorded all his experiences.[16] After a visit to a Sami goahti he made these notes: "All light from above. If the head is tilted forward it is dark. The lit parts of the figure always lighter than the tent canvas. Sharp shadows run like spokes from the middle of the goathi."[17]

The book on Lappland was published in 1908, and contained eleven watercolors by Bauer. He painted these back in Stockholm, almost 18 months later, using the photos and sketches he had collected during his journey. By then the strong impressions from his encounter with Lappland had faded and the illustrations became more like regular commissions.[18] Many of the photos also resulted in drawings and paintings. Most of them were romanticized versions of the photos, but he succeeded in capturing the nuances and ambiance of the Sami's goahtis and the richness of the Sami garments and crafts. Details from the Sami culture such as the bent knifes, shoes, spears, pots and belts became important elements in the clothes and ornamentations of Bauer's trolls.[16] Bauer's eye for details and his numerous notes also makes the material an ethnographic documentation of the era.[19]

John and Ester[edit]

"The Fairy Princess", oil sketch by Bauer, his wife Ester modeling, 1904.

Among the students at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts was a young girl, Ester Ellqvist, who Bauer thought had all the qualities a fairy princess should possess. Ester, who was an artist in her own right, studied at the separate department for women. At the academy, women were not allowed to the same classes as the men and their education was conducted in a different manner.[20] She was talented and ambitious but she would never have the same chance to develop her artistry as her male colleagues.[21]

Bauer fell head over heals in love with her and started courting her in 1903.[22] Since they were apart most of the time, this was done by mail. Their growing relationship can be followed clearly in the letters where they share dreams, aspirations, doubts and insecurities. For Bauer, Ester had become his inspiration, muse and his "fairy princess" and it was as such he painted her for the first time in Sagoprinsessan ("The Fairy Princess"). He made sketches for the painting in 1904, and finalized them in an oil painting in 1905. Ester is portrayed as a strong, enlightened and unobtainable Valkyrie.[23] The painting was exhibited at Bauer's first exhibition together with ten other debutants at the Valand School of Fine Arts in Gothenburg 1905,[13] and in Norrköping 1906, where it was sold to a private collector.[24] It is now in the Jönköpings museum.[25] Bauer tried to mould Ester into his vision of a creature of the woods as well as the perfect artist's wife, much in the same way as Karin was to artist Carl Larsson. He wanted her to make a home for them in a romantic cottage in the woods while he himself wandered about the forest seeking inspiration.

Ester on the other hand, born in Ausås, Skåne and raised in Stockholm, was a lively person who enjoyed the social life that a town could provide. She loved Bauer very much but was more practical. She wanted to settle down in a comfortable place with a husband and have children. Bauer was not yet so established an artist that he could provide for a family.[26][23] During his entire life, Bauer had to rely on his parents for financial support and when he proposed to Ester, it was not with the approval of his parents.[27]

On 18 December 1906, John Bauer and Ester Ellqvist were married. Not much is known about their first years together since they now lived in the same house and no letters were necessary. They settled down to a more ordinary and harmonious way of life. Bauer now had his fairy queen and was getting jobs illustrating covers for magazines (Hvar 8 Dag) and also started to work for Bland tomtar och troll ("Among gnomes and trolls").[28][29] In 1908, John and Ester traveled to Italy together and on their return they found a house, "Villa Björkudden" on the shores of the Lake Bunn just outside Gränna. They bought the house in 1914, and the following year their son Bengt (always called "Putte") was born.[30] The birth of "Putte" marked a harmonious time for Bauer. The child was his and Ester's great joy. Bauer was doing his final illustrations for Among gnomes and trolls, making them his grand farewell to the series. He was now free to pursue new ideas such as playwriting and frescos. He showed his paintings at exhibitions and experimented with new ways of paiting, but all this came at a cost. Baeur was often away, working or travelling, leaving Ester alone at home and he no longer had the steady income that the illustrations provided.[31] By 1917, their marriage was in trouble. Ester had more or less given up her own artistic aspirations to be the understanding wife that he, now a "star", demanded. Their love for each other begun to dwindle.[32] In 1918, Bauer put his thoughts about a divorce in a letter to Ester.[23]

As Bauer settled in with Ester the portraits of her and the pictures she modeled for became fewer.[33] With the birth of their son, Bauer started to paint pictures with children as part of the composition. The painting Rottrollen ("The root trolls") 1917, is of "Putte" sleeping among troll shaped roots in a forest.[34]

Journey to Italy[edit]

Bauer had already been to Germany with his father in 1902, visiting Josef's native country. The old medieval towns had made a great impression on Bauer, so when he and Ester in 1908, had the opportunity to make a longer journey, at Josef's expense, they choose to travel through Germany and on to Italy. They visited Verona, Florence, Sienna, stayed a couple of months in Volterra, onwards to Naples and Capri and spent the winter in Rome.[35]

They made the most of their visit studying art, visiting churches and museums which appealed especially to the eclectic mind of Bauer. In the evenings they went to the small tavernas and just simply enjoyed the ambiance. All of this is recorded in the many letters they sent home to Bauer's family.[36] Bauer's sketchbooks from the journey are full of studies of antique object and renaissance art, some of which he later used in his illustrations. A portrait of Ghirlandaio by Sandro Botticelli is said to be the base for Svanhamnen ("The Swan maiden") and that Piero della Francesca's work was the inspiration for Den helige Martin ("Saint Martin, the Holy"). He also became intrigued with the technique of fresco. But all of this exuberance of art also made him homesick. He longed for the quiet serenity of the Swedish forest.[37] Consequently, this resulted in some of his best winter pictures with white snow, dark woods and the sky glittering with tiny stars.[38]

The journey was cut short when a murder took place in the same building where they lived in Rome. Bauer was interrogated by the Italian police due to a misunderstanding. He was never a suspect but the whole thing became very public, leaving a bitter aftertaste to their visit in Rome.[39]

Death on Lake Vättern[edit]

The S/S Per Brahe in Stockholm after the salvage.

Bauer suffered from depression and self-doubts. By 1918, his marriage was failing, divorce was being discussed, and the world was at war. He, Esther and their two-year old son, Bengt or "Putte", were on their way to their new home in Stockholm, where John hoped for spiritual renewal and a new life for himself and his family. A recent, well-publicized train accident at Getå[40] made him consider another mode of transportation. He booked their return to Stockholm by boat, the Per Brahe steamer.[41]

On the night of 19 November 1918, when the steamer left Gränna it was loaded with iron stoves, plowshares, sewing machines and lots of fruit and potatoes in barrels. All the cargo did not fit in the hold and much was stowed on deck, most if it unsecured, making the ship top-heavy. The weather was very bad and by the time the steamer was at sea a full storm was raging. The wind caused the cargo on deck to shift, some of it went overboard which further destabilized the ship. The ship capsized and went down, stern first, just 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the next port, Hästholmen. All the 24 people onboard, including John Bauer, Ester and Bengt died. Most of the passengers were trapped in their cabins by the shifting heavy cargo.[42]

The wreckage was found on 22 November 1918, at a depth of 32 metres (105 ft) and it was salvaged on 12 August 1922. Investigations indicated that only one third of the cargo had been stowed in the hold, while the rest was on deck, unsecured.[42] The salvage operation turned into a bizarre public attraction. A sewing machine from the cargo of the steamer was smashed into pieces and sold for one crown a piece. It is estimated that about 20,000 people came to watch the raising of the ship and extra trains from Norrköping had to be inserted. Newsreels featuring the raising of the ship were shown in cinemas all over Sweden.[43] The salvage operation became costly and in order to finance it the Per Brahe was sent on a macabre tour throughout Sweden.[44] The newspapers fed peoples superstitions that the mythical creatures of the forests had claimed Bauer and thereby sinking the ship. Their most common themes were connected to the tale Agneta och sjökungen ("Agneta and the Sea King"), 1910, where the Sea King lures a maiden into the depths.[45] On 18 August 1922, John, Ester and Bengt were buried at the Östra cemetery in Jönköping, quarter 04 plot number 06.[46]

Bauer, the person[edit]

Self-portrait made in Volterra, 1908.

During his entire life Bauer privately had doubts about himself and what he was doing. He was tired and insecure. He smirked at the praise he got for his pictures of trolls and princesses, and compared it to "a nice pat on the head for making funny pictures for children".[47] He wanted to paint in oil and make 'real' art but he also needed the money he got for his illustrations.[48] All this was contrary to the face he put on in public and when making self portraits. In these he is strong and he makes fun of himself and his relation to the trolls and gnomes.[49][50]

In an article in Allers Familje-journal ("Allers family journal") 1953, his friend Ove Eklund stated that Bauer, "although only mumbled about and never said clearly", really believed that all the creatures he drew actually existed. Eklund had on several occasions accompanied Bauer on his walks through the forests by Lake Vättern, and such was his way of describing all the things he thought existed that Eklund felt like he could see them too.[51]

Ove Eklund on Bauer:

Yes, there he was, John Bauer, with his brown, eternal pipe glued to the corner of his mouth. Now and then he blew a small cloud of brown troll smoke straight up into the turquoise-bleu, sun-sparkling space. And muttered something far behind his tight, narrow lips—not always so easy to decipher. But I, having had the key for many years, understood most of it.[51]


Most of all Bauer depicted the Swedish landscape, the dense forests where the light trickled down through the mighty tree canopies. He painted mystical and magical places, easily recognizable to anyone who has ever been in the Swedish woods. He is best known for his illustrations of Among Gnomes and Trolls.[52]

Bauer and his friends were part of an "in between generation" in Swedish art. The new modernism movement in Europe was still some years away, but at the same time they were considerably younger than the artists still dominating the Swedish art scene: Carl Larsson, Anders Zorn and Bruno Liljefors.[21]

Bauer was very inspired by these artists but through his German heritage he also came in contact with the works of Fritz Erler, Max Klinger and other German illustrators.[53] He lived in an era when the Old Norse was romanticized throughout Scandinavia and he borrowed ideas and motifs from artists like Theodor Kittelsen and Erik Werenskiöld but the finished works and especially the trolls were very much his own. [54] Bauer's biggest source of inspiration was undoubtedly the Swedish landscape. Ever since he was little he had wandered in the deep dark woods of Småland imagining all the creatures living there.[55][56]

After the journey to Italy his works clearly showed elements from the 14th century renaissance. The pictures of princes and princesses had elements from Flandic tapestries and even the trolls got pleats in their attire much like in antique Roman sculptures.[57]

Bauer had a singular and time consuming technique when working on a painting. He would start with a small sketch, no bigger than a stamp, with just the basic shapes. Then he would make another, slightly bigger, sketch with more details. The sketches grew progressively in size along with the number of details and ideas until the work reached its final size. Most of the originals for "About Gnomes and Trolls" are square pictures about 20-to-25-centimetre (7.9 to 9.8 in). He doodles on anything at hand, on used stationary or the back of an envelope.[58] Many of his sketches looks almost like cartoon strips where the pictures get bigger and more detailed. He would also do several versions of the same finished picture such as one summer and one winter version.[59][60] Neither did he observe the traditional "hierarchy" in mediums or techniques at the time. He could make a complete work in pencil or charcoal just as well as a sketch in oil.[61]

At the beginning of his career as an illustrator Bauer was hindered by the printing technique at the time. Printing with all colors was very expensive and something not done in most books. He had to settle for one color plus black.[62] But as printing was developed and his works were more in demand, the pictures gained more color with each year until they were finally printed in full color.[63]


Ester in the cottage, aquarelle, 1907.

The most noted of Bauers pictures are the water colors since this was the technique he used when illustrating for books and magazines. He alternated between aquarelle and gouache. Studies and pictures made just as paintings are mostly pure aquarelles or gouaches. When he made illustrations the two mediums were sometimes mixed, since he needed both the speed of the aquarelle and the contrast and impasto that the gouache provided.[64] These water-soluble, and fast drying, media also allowed Bauer to tweak his pictures up until the very last minute before deadline, something he almost always did.[65]

Among Gnomes and Trolls[edit]

In 1907, Bauer was asked by the Åhlén & Åkerlund publishing house (now Bonnier Group) to illustrate their new series of books Among Gnomes and Trolls. The books would be published annually and contain stories by Sweden's most prominent contemporary authors.[62] The majority of the pictures were full page watercolor illustrations in a muted color scheme, but he also contributed with covers, vignettes and other smaller illustrations.[1] Bauer's most significant creatures, the trolls, were painted in shades of gray, green and brown, the colors of the forests, as if these beings had grown from the landscape itself.[66]

In the 1907–1910 editions, due to the printing technique available at the time, all the pictures were reproduced in just two colors, black and yellow. Some originals (versions of or sketches) were in full color.[67]

In 1911, when Bauer again was asked to illustrate the book, he made it clear to the publisher that he wanted to retain his pictures along with the copyrights after the publication. In the previous editions the publishing house had kept the original illustrations and considered them their property. Bauer was backed up in his request by other artists facing the same problem. The company did not budge and with no illustrations by Bauer the sales of the book dropped considerably.[68]

In the 1912 edition, the publisher yielded to Bauer's demands and he was once again illustrating the book. Printing had also been updated so this year the pictures could be printed in three colors: black, yellow and blue. A huge improvement for Bauer. The prints almost resembled the originals.[69]

Bauer also illustrated the editions in 1913–1915. These were also printed in three colors. The 1913 edition marks the peak of his performance in these books, and the illustrations are among the most reproduced of his works.[70] In 1914, his illustrations vere very much influenced by the Italian renaissance. At this time Bauer wanted to move on from the limited field of illustrating the series, but he was forced by his publisher to illustrate yet another edition.[71] 1915, was the last year he worked with his trolls and gnomes, he was done with them and wanted to move on.[72] The war in Europe had altered his vision of the world, it was no longer a cute fairy tale.[73]


Ännu sitter Tuvstarr kvar och ser ner i vattnet. ("Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water.") 1913.

Princess Tuvstarr and the forest tarn ("Tuvstarr" is Swedish for Carex cespitosa), painted in 1913, is perhaps Bauer's most noted work.[74]

Up until the 1980s, the most reproduced and publicized of Bauer's paintings were two of princess Tuvstarr and the moose Skutt from the Sagan om älgtjuren Skutt och lilla prinsessan Tuvstarr ("The tale of the moose Hop and the little princess Cotton grass"), 1913. The first is of the princess riding on the moose and the second is of the moose standing guard over the sleeping princess. The paintings were mostly used as pictures for nurseries.[75] The same tale also contains the picture of Tuvstarr gazing down into the tarn looking for her lost heart, an allegory of innocence lost.[29] Bauer made several studies of this motif.[76][77] During the 1980s the painting of Tuvstarr and the tarn was used in advertising for a shampoo. This sparked a debate in Sweden about how works of art, considered part of the national heritage, should be used.[29] In 1999, the picture again appeared in advertising, this time in a manipulated version in which all the trees had been cut down and Tuvstarr seemed to be lamenting them. The award-winning advertising campaign was made by Naturskyddsföreningen ("The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation") and helped further the newly awakened environmental movement in Sweden.[78] In his biography on Bauer, Gunnar Lindqvist argues that the picture has become too commercialized.[79]

Oil painting[edit]

At the beginning of his career Bauer made many of his major works in oil. This was the traditional way of making art that he had been taught at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. The trip to Lappland resulted in many sketches and watercolors for the book but also in an oil on canvas of "Kåsovagge", 1904.[18] During 1903–1905, he made several portraits and landscapes in a fresh expressionistic style.[80] He also made his first oil of Ester, The fairy princess, a painting with elements from the Pre-Raphaelites. This painting shows clearly in what direction Bauer wanted to go with his art.[24] But his commissions illustrating "Among gomes and trolls" got in the way of this. He felt like a Jack of all Trades and made regular angry outbursts in letters to editors and publishers asking for his help, saying that he "had to work, he wanted a future painting in oil and the rest be damned".[48] By the time he was finished with his trolls and gnomes he was tired and worn out and turned to other things such as scenography, writing a compendium on drawing to be used in schools and starting with frescos. He never really revisited oil painting before he drowned.[81]

Monumental works[edit]

Freja, sketch for a large oil paiting, 1917.

As in his earlier works at the academy, Bauer showed an interest in monumental frescos and after a visit to Italy this interest began to grow. His first chance to do a major work using this technique was in 1912, when he did a 1.5-by-1.5-metre (4 ft 11 in by 4 ft 11 in) fresco-secco mural, Vill-Vallareman, at the home of publisher Erik Åkerlund.[82] In 1913, he was asked to do a fresco for the Odd Fellows lodge in Nyköping, Den helige Martin ("Saint Martin, the Holy").[83] At the same time the new Stockholm Court House was under construction. Contests about various decorations in the building were held, and most of the artists at the time presented entries and suggestions. Bauer made many sketches for this but in the end his confidence failed and he never entered any of his drafts.[82]

Bauer's last monumental work was a large oil painting for the auditorium at the Karlskrona school for girls in 1917. It is of Freja, the old Norse goddess of fertility. Ester posed for the painting nude and Bauer depicted her as strong, sensual and forceful.[82] Their friends teasingly called it "a breast picture of Mrs. Bauer".[83]

Exhibitions, a selection[edit]

  • 1905 Gothenburg
  • 1906 Norrkoping
  • 1911 Rome
  • 1913 Munich
  • 1913 Dresden
  • 1913 Brighton
  • 1913 Stockholm
  • 1914 Malmö
  • 1915 San Francisco

Memorial exhibitions[edit]

  • 1934–45 Traveling exhibition
  • 1968 Jönköpings läns museum, Jönköping
  • 1973 Thielska galleriet, Stockholm
  • 1981–82 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
  • 1993 Milesgården, Stockholm
  • 1994 Göteborgs konstmuseum, Gothenburg


Bauer was awarded the medal of honor at the 1915 exhibition in San Francisco.[1][84]

Art market[edit]

As of 2014, Bauer's pictures remain sought after and highly prized at auction. At Stockholm auctioneer Bukowski's classic sale in 2014, one of Bauer's gouaches, Humpe I trollskogen ("Humpe in the troll forest") sold for 563,500 crowns (about US$87,000) and a watercolor, En riddare red fram ("A knight rode forth") sold for 551,250 crowns (about US$85,100).[85][86]


John Bauer's illustrations have been reprinted many times, making his work available to generations of Swedish children. His pictures are considered among the classics in fairy tales.[87] As of 2014, books with Bauer's pictures has been published in ten languages.[88] Bauer's influence on other artists can be noted in the works of illustrators Sulamith Wülfing, Kay Nielsen, Brian Froud and Rebecca Guay. In his biography on Bauer, Gunnar Lindqvist states that: "Although Bauer's work is sometimes credited to have influenced that of Arthur Rackham, and vice versa, these artists did not come in contact with each others works until the 1910s when they had already established their own style. Any similarities must therefore be credited to their common inspirations by the romantic Munich art of the late 1800s and the art of Albrecht Dürer."[89]

The Jönköpings läns museum owns over 1,000 paintings, drawings and sketches by Bauer, which is the world's largest collection of his works.[87] He is also represented at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, the Gothenburg Museum of Art and the Malmö konstmuseum.[90] The John Bauer Museum in Ebenhausen, Germany is a museum dedicated to the life and works of Bauer.[91]

Most of the correspondence attributed to John Bauer (about 1000 letters) is now in the Jönköpings läns museum.[92] The letters in the collection are in the process of being digitized.[93] Other letter to and from Bauer can be found at the National Library of Sweden[94] and the Gothenburg University Library[95]


"At dusk she often snuck out just to get a whiff of the good smell", 1914.

In 1986, Sveriges Television produced and broadcast the movie Ester—om John Bauers wife ("Ester—about John Bauers wife"). Ester was played by Lena T. Hansson and John by Per Mattsson.[96]

A short film for children about Bauer and storytelling, John Bauer, fantasin och sagorna ("John Bauer, fantasy and tales") was made in 2013, by Ulf Hansson, Kunskapsmedia AB in co-operation with the Jönköpings läns museum and John Bauer Art HB.[97]

The Sveriges Television series Konstverk berättar ("A work of art tells a story") featured the picture "At dusk she often snuck out just to get a whiff of the good smell" in the episode The childhood picture by Bengt Lagerkvist on 24 January 1977. The episode is available in Sweden through the Swedish Television Open Archive.[98]

A film project about John Bauer and Ester was started in 2012, by Börje Peratt. Called John Bauer—Bergakungen ("John Bauer—The mountain king") the movie focuses on the fairy tale artist and his love for Ester. Gustaf Skarsgård is slated for the role of Bauer.[99]


The John Bauer monumentet in Jönköping.

In Jönköping, a memorial in honour of Bauer stands in the Town park. It was made in 1931, by Swedish sculptor Carl Hultström.[100] Hultström have also made a bust in bronze of John Bauer. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery at the Gripsholm Castle.[101]

Celebrating John Bauer's centennial birthday in 1982, the Swedish postal service issued three stamps with motifs from Among gnomes and trolls. In 1997, another four were issued.[90]

A park and an adjacent street at the place where the Villa Sjövik, Bauer's family home, once stood was named after him. The place is now part of the Municipality of Jönköping.[102] In Mullsjö a street was named after John Bauer,[103] and in Nyköping a square was named after him.[104]

The John Bauer leden ("The John Bauer trail") is a hiking trail through the woods where Bauer used to wander in search of motifs and inspiration. The trail between Huskvarna and Gränna is 46 km (29 mi) long and divided into two stages: the north and the south part.[105]

Modern day influence[edit]

  • Swedish photographer Mats Andersson has published a book where he revisits the forests of John Bauer using a camera instead of drawing. The pictures have also been exhibited at the Abecita art museum, Borås in November 2013.[106][107]
  • A Scandinavian franchise of private schools (now defunct) derived its name and some themes from John Bauer, such as naming the classes after his characters.[108]
  • He is mentioned in Neil Gaiman's comic book series The Sandman.[109]
  • The visual look of the motion picture The Dark Crystal, by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, was developed by primary concept artist and chief creature designer, Brian Froud, who in turn was inspired by the art of John Bauer.[110]
  • Italian musician Gianluca Plomitallo a.k.a. "The Huge", has made an album called John Bauer–Riddaren Rider where all the songs are named after pictures by Bauer.[111]
  • Norwegian Artist Mortiis uses the art of John Bauer on his ambient albums.[112]
  • Swedish poet Roger L Svensson uses the Bauer Memorial and Bauer's creations in his poems.[113]

Works by John Bauer[edit]

For illustrations from the children's anthology Among Gnomes and Trolls, see

Other works

Written work


  1. ^ a b c d e Romdahl, Axel L. Axelsson, Roger, ed. Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (in Swedish) 2 (1920 ed.). Stockholm: Riksarkivet. p. 783. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Den unge Bauer". Jönköpings läns museum. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Villa Sjövik". Jönköpings Läns Museum. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Agrenius 1996, p. 8.
  5. ^ Lindqvist 1979, p. 9.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]