Karin Bergöö Larsson

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Karin Larsson
Karin Bergöö Larsson, photographed around 1882
Born3 October 1859
Örebro, Närke, Sweden
Died18 February 1928(1928-02-18) (aged 68)
Alma materRoyal Swedish Academy of Arts
Known forPainting, design
Spouse(s)Carl Larsson

Karin Larsson, née Bergöö, (3 October 1859 – 18 February 1928) was a Swedish artist and designer who collaborated with her husband, Carl Larsson, as well as being often depicted in his paintings.

Early life and education[edit]

Still Life with Fruit and Tankard, 1877 painting by Karin Bergöö

Karin Bergöö was born in Örebro and grew up in Hallsberg, where her father, Adolf Bergöö, was a successful businessman. Her younger sister, Stina, married the English geologist Francis Arthur Bather.[1] Karin showed early artistic talent, and after attending the Franska Skolan Ecole Française in Stockholm, studied at the Slöjdskolan (Handicrafts School; now Konstfack) and from 1877 to 1882 at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. After completing her studies there, she went to Grez-sur-Loing, outside Paris, where there was a colony of Scandinavian artists, to continue painting.[2]

Life with Carl Larsson[edit]

Karin channelled her own artistic impulses into design at her home

In Grez-sur-Loing she met Carl Larsson; they fell in love and in 1883 returned to Stockholm and were married, returning together to Grez-sur-Loing, where their first child, Suzanne, was born in 1884. The following year, they returned to Sweden.

In 1888 the Larssons went to Paris, on the suggestion of Pontus Fürstenberg of Gothenburg, who wanted a large painting by Carl to add to his art collection. They left their two children with Karin's parents in Hallsberg, and upon their return a year later, decorated the Bergöös' new house. They then moved into Lilla Hyttnäs, a stuga (cottage) in Sundborn on the outskirts of Falun where her father had been born. They enlarged it to accommodate their growing family and it became known as the Larsson farm.

rocking chair designed by Karin Larsson

Karin acted as a sounding-board and critic for Carl's work, in addition to being his primary model. With children and a large house to manage, she channelled her own artistic impulses into design. She designed and wove a large amount of the textiles used in the house, embroidered, and designed clothes for herself and the children and furniture which was created by a local carpenter.[3] For example, the pinafores worn by her and other women who worked at Sundborn, known as karinförkläde in Swedish, were a practical design by her. The style in which the house was decorated and furnished to Karin's designs, depicted in Carl's paintings, created a new, recognisably Swedish style:[2][4][5] "In total contrast to the prevailing style of dark heavy furnishings, its bright interiors incorporated an innovative blend of Swedish folk design and fin-de-siècle influences, including Japonisme and Arts and Crafts ideas from Britain."[6] In the "Swedish room" with which she replaced the little used drawing room, she removed curtains and placed furniture along the walls around a raised dais, creating a room within a room that was much used by the family, as shown in Carl's paintings, with a sofa in a corner for naps, shown in Lathörnet (Lazy Nook).[4] Her textile designs and colours were also new: "Pre-modern in character they introduced a new abstract style in tapestry. Her bold compositions were executed in vibrant colours; her embroidery frequently used stylised plants. In black and white linen she reinterpreted Japanese motifs."[7] She is buried in Sundborn cemetery.[8]

1997, Victoria and Albert Museum in London showed her interior design at the Carl Larsson exhibition.[9]

2009 she was highlighted with an exhibition in Sundborn.[10]

2018, the exhibition Carl Larsson and His Home: Art of the Swedish Lifestyle at Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art, showed textiles made by Karin, and paintings of their home, made by Carl.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

Larsson was the inspiration for Katherine Ashenburg's 2018 novel Sofie & Cecilia which is a fictionalized retelling of her life.[12]


Paintings of Karin Larsson by her husband, Carl Larsson
In her kitchen with her children, 1901
With her daughter Suzanne in Grez-sur-Loing, 1885
When the Children have Gone to Bed, 1901


  1. ^ Ulrik Jansson, "Tre nyanser av kvinnokamp runt förra sekelskiftet", Kumla blogs, Sydnärkenytt, Kanal Regional, 16 February 2015 (in Swedish)
  2. ^ a b "Karin Larsson – A Trendsetting Designer Long Before her Time" Archived 2014-03-19 at the Wayback Machine, Carl Larsson Gården, Sundborn.
  3. ^ Paul Greenhalgh, Quotations and Sources on Design and the Decorative Arts, Manchester: Manchester University, 1993, ISBN 9780719039645, p. 102.
  4. ^ a b Marge Thorell, "Karin Bergöö Larsson: Mother, muse and artist", The Local, 9 December 2008.
  5. ^ "Larsson, Carl (1853–1919)", Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith, A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University, 2009, ISBN 9780199239665.
  6. ^ Tina Manoli and Nicola Costaras, "Preparations for 'Carl and Karin Larsson: Creators of the Swedish Style'", Conservation Journal, Victoria and Albert Museum, 25, October 1997.
  7. ^ Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition catalogue, quoted at Carl Larsson Gården.
  8. ^ Karin Bergöö Larsson at Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon, access-date=2019-06-11
  9. ^ "Karin Larsson". www.carllarsson.se. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  10. ^ Spektra (30 December 2008). "Karin Larsson hyllas med utställning". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). ISSN 1101-2412. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  11. ^ Tanaka, Yukari (18 September 2018). "'Carl Larsson and His Home: Art of the Swedish Lifestyle'". The Japan Times. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  12. ^ "How a trip to Sweden inspired long-time nonfiction author Katherine Ashenburg to write her first novel (CBC books)".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]