Monday, July 23, 2012

A Peek at the Usually Hard to See House by The Gustavian Designer Masreliez in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

Louis Masreliez was born and formally christened Adrien Louis Masreliez (1748 – 19 March 1810). He was a Swedish painter and interior designer. Masreliez was born in Paris and came to Sweden in 1753. He began his education at Ritakademien (Drawing Academy) at the age of 10. Since the academy did not teach painting, he studied at Lorens Gottman's workshop. In 1769 he was given a study grant which he used to travel to Paris and Bologna to study. He left Bologna in 1773 to live in Paris for eight years. He then returned to Sweden in 1782 to become ledamot of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. The following year he was made a professor of art history. He became rector of the Academy in 1802 and director in 1805. His work is represented in the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts, the Gothenburg Museum of Art, and the Royal Palace. Among his works are: The interior of Gustav III's Pavilion at Haga Park in Solna; The interior of Tullgarn Palace; The altar paintings of Maria Magdalena church in Stockholm, Romfartuna church near Västerås in Västmanland and the S. Stefano in Alexandria.  The perfectly restored suite of rooms in Salviigränd in the Old Town in Stockholm, created for the tradesman and bachelor Wilhelm Schwardz in 1795 is the subject of this blog essay. It is a little known Neoclassical masterpiece. 

This is a portrait of Louis Masreliez below. 

He was one of the artists in the employ of the discerning, elegant and mercurial Gustav III who very actively nurtured, via his patronage and self assured good informed taste, the development of a viably Swedish variant of the then prevailing Neoclassical Style which we regularly label the Louis XVI style. It is certainly to the credit of Gustav III that he allowed Masreliez and other artists of caliber and outstanding talent to do so much work for the Swedish court and that he similarly encouraged the Swedish nobility to patronize artists of high category and foster a very sophisticated legacy of fine houses, interiors with some of the finest furniture, gilt bronzes, painted wood paneling, glass and textiles being produced in late 18th Century Europe.  This is King Gustav III by Alexandre Roslin in his coronation robes.

The Swedish Gustavian Style is often noted for its attenuated (some say a bit glacial) treatment of Pompeian inspired decoration. It's not as animated as the decor one sees in France in the 1780's and 1790's. But it's still quite beautifully quietly refined and very chic! As noted above, among the other accomplishments of Masreliez is the utterly poetic and sublime Pavilion of Gustav III at Haga Park. We shall have occasion to visit Gustav III's pavilion in the coming weeks...

But today I thought it would be interesting to take a glimpse of this apartment in Gamla Stan ( the old historic quarter) of Stockholm designed by Masreliez for a private client Wilhelm Schvardz, a Stockholm merchant. The work was finished in 1795.  Today the apartment is privately owned by a Swedish insurance company who makes it nearly hopelessly inaccessible. When in Stockholm, I was kindly given a nice colour booklet produced by the insurance company and lavishly illustrated.The photos below are scanned from this booklet.

Below are two views of the drawing room... Note the prominence of grisaille decoration on a gold ground on the wall panels. This is similar to the decorative treatments of the Mirrored Hall at Haga Pavilion.

Below are two views of the dining room... Note the lovely painted ceiling and the typically stylish Swedish chandelier.

The illustration below depict another smaller sitting room with its monumental porcelain stove that, along with the stunning chandelier, is a staple in classic Gustavian interiors.

The last illustration depicts the designer's treatment of his client's private intimate bedroom.

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