Ernst Josephson was a Swedish painter. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 1867–1876, and visited Paris in the winter of 1873–1874, where he studied the old masters, especially Rembrandt and Titian. During gallery studies in Florence and Rome in 1877–1879, he further deepened his knowledge of the technique and painterly vision of the ancients, which compositions such as David and Saul and Faun and Nymph (both 1878) and likewise the portrait of Ketty Rindskopf testify to in their deeply romantic tone .
However, he only got release for his painterly talent when he settled in Paris in 1879. Apart from a winter in Spain in 1881–1882 and several visits to his homeland, he stayed in France until 1888, and here received impressions primarily from Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet and the Impressionists, impulses that became decisive for his new style. A number of portraits were created in these years, including the Manet-inspired one of the journalist G. Renholm (1880), of Pontus and Göthilda Fürstenberg (1883 and 1884), as well as picturesquely rich and delicately empathetic depictions of young women.
In Spain, in 1881 he painted the naturalistic masterwork Spanske smeder, which exists in two versions: in the National Museum, Stockholm and the National Museum/National Gallery in Oslo. With Strömkarlen, which is based on an idea from his first visit to Eggedal in 1872 and was completed during another stay there in 1884, he came into conflict with the prevailing realistic view of the time. For a couple of years he had been the self-styled leader of the young Swedish artists in their struggle against domestic academism, but isolated himself more and more. In 1887 he broke with the newly formed Konstnärsförbundet and finally settled on an island in Brittany, where an insanity broke out in 1888.
From the last two years in France come peculiar images of French village life such as City Gossip, Høstsol, Spinnersken and Joie de vivre. The great composition A scandal in society remained unfinished. Of his strange and imaginative sick art, which has gained importance for later modernist trends, mention can be made of the paintings Gåslisa (circa 1890) and the intense portrait of his uncle Ludvig Josephson (1893), and also around 2,000 drawings, often with mythological, historical or religious content , and despite the signs of illness of a refined beauty of her own.
Josephson also appeared as a lyricist with the collections Svarta rosor (1888) and Gula rosor (1896).
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