John Bauer Art
Welcome to the John Bauer page with images from Sagovarld (Great Swedish Fairy Tales, Swedish Folk Tales), Our Fathers' Godsaga. The Swansuit, Lapp Folk will appear here as I add them so check back.
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About John Bauer
John Bauer was born in Jonkoping, Sweden, in 1882, the third of four children born to Emma and Joseph Bauer. The loss of his sister Anna, two years his senior, who died when John was only 11, which affected his family very much. At 16, John went to Stockholm to begin his art studies. After two years, he was accepted at The Royal Academy of Art, where Classical Art classes, Anatomy, Perspective, and History of Art lectures comprised seven lecture hours, with overtime and drawing assignments at home. There he met his wife, Esther, whom he married in December, 1906. Esther was the model for The Fairy Princess and many of his later illustrations. In the spring of 1908, John and Esther traveled to Italy, settling in a villa above Volterra. They stayed in Italy for nearly two years. Bauer was stricken by the beauty of 14th century works he found in the museum of Naples, causing him to say "I notice more and more, that it is from the oldest and most primitive artists that one must learn to become an artist oneself".
The details of John Bauer's work are accurate -- Bronze Age axes and medieval ironwork. The costumes in his fairy tales are modeled from books in found in the Royal Library. In 1904, he was commissioned to do a book about Lappland and spent a summer following the Lapps on their migrations. Some of the details of their dress are included in the costumes of his trolls.
His most famous work, the illustrations to the first of eight volumes of Bland tomtar och Troll (Among Gnomes and Trolls), a collection of fary tales written by Swedish authors, was published in 1907. It was hugely successful. In the early volumes, the illustrations were printed in grey tones only, sometimes with yellow color added. In the later volumes we find the famous examples of his mature work: Princess tuvstarr and Skutt the moose against the twilight sky. In the later volumes, his illustrations were printed in color.
In 1915, he resigned from the commission to illustrate BTT because he wanted to take his art in a different direction. He painted Adam and Eve, a fresco of St. Martin, a large oil painting on canvas, Freja. He suffered from depression, and doubted his abilities and purpose. By 1918, his marriage was on the rocks, divorce was being discussed, and the world was at war. The country house at Bjorkudden was too remote for Esther and a new home was built in Stockholm with assistance from John's father. Esther and John, and their two-year old son, Bengt or Putte, hoped to start a new life in the new home in Stockholm. John distrusted trains and insisted that they return by ferry, but the Per Brahe capsized in stormy weather and all aboard drowned.