Every year there is one day during summer when all the small museums hold open houses. People can come and connect with the cultural history of the country. Mariette’s maternal grandparents established just such a museum, which I have posted about in the past but today was a special open house.
The weather report last week predicted mucho rain for today but the prognosis lightened up considerably and today was a perfect Swedish summer day: warm but no too warm, just right actually, for which there is a Swedish word: lagom; blue skies and no wind. We borrowed our neighbor’s car and brought a special visitor with us to the open house. He was a curator for the regional museum here in Halmstad and on our drive to the museum about 25 miles to our north, he pointed out several burial mounds from the Bronze Age that he had excavated. The guy really knows the history of the area.
He was coming to explain to visitors one of the important parts of the family museum collection: the more than 700 oil prints that Mariette’s grandparents collected over the years. Oil prints are a relic of the Industrial Age in Europe. They are a lithographic process where an image is inked (or coated with oil paint) and printed. Today, printing uses 4 colors. Back then they would use up to 20 colors to capture the subtle colors in a painting.
The upper classes could always afford to have original oil paintings on their walls but oil prints were the decoration of choice for the homes of the growing middle classes of Europe.
But enough of that, let’s see some photos.
Here is the curator, Lennart Lundborg, long retired but still active imparting his knowledge of all things artistic and cultural.
Mariette’s cousin and his son.
And his daughter.
Another cousin with her son.
And daughter. I wish I had gotten a better picture of this little thing because she is truly adorable. What a smile on a two year old.
Some visitors checking out a clog making apparatus.
A closer look.
A whole assortment of 19th Century tools.
Inside, one of Mariette’s uncles (at left) and two friends were playing wonderful Swedish folk music. Violins and accordions are the two staples of folk music from back in the day. I have a video that I will try to post to Facebook of one of the songs they did.
Okay, now for some oil prints.
Many of these were copies of well know paintings.
Like this one, for example. It shows one of the Swedish kings being carried down from a mountain after being killed in battle. We have seen the original, which is about 8 feet by 5 feet in size. It is one of Sweden’s most famous historical paintings so no wonder it was made into an oil print. There must have been thousands of these throughout Sweden in the 1800s.
This is my favorite, probably titled The Polar Bear Kicking Some Ass. I don’t think those spears are going to do much good, especially the bear’s dance partner.
Even Honest Abe made onto an oil print. Gawd, could the U.S. use a man like him again.
Portraits and more mundane subjects were also popular. August Strindberg wrote in support of oil prints in Sweden’s biggest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter (The Day’s News) in 1874. They helped educate the masses about art, history and culture.
Of course there is much more in the museum, such as this variety of porcelain coffee cups and pots.
Then there is this: the probable inspiration for the cliche, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,” because that is exactly what this is–a mousetrap. The block is positioned at the top of the posts, the mouse eats the cheese in the pan below, it trips the mechanism and the rest is . . . further R & D on mousetraps. I love this thing.
I also love this pencil sharpener.
And this guy.
And his friends.
The whole place is fantastic. Our curator friend shared his extensive knowledge of the oil printing process with the visitors and himself was impressed with the extent and quality of the collection.
Just think, museums all over were doing the same thing as we did today, though they may not have had the fabulous lunch that we did, prepared by Mariette’s aunt Margareta who is surely an angel that has come down to make Sweden even better. She is a nurse who works with cancer patients and must be making enormous deposits in the Karma bank this lifetime. I should do a post about her sometime. Well, Mariette’s entire family, actually, because they are really a special bunch.
What a day.