Johannes Takanen, Carl Gustaf Estlander, 1883, plaster cast, height 66cm. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

Peer Reviewed Article: Nordic Art History in the Making

Nordic Art History in the Making: Carl Gustaf Estlander and Tidskrift för Bildande Konst och Konstindustri 1875–1876

Susanna Pettersson, PhD, Museum Director, Ateneum Art Museum

 

First published in Renja Suominen-Kokkonen (ed.), The Challenges of Biographical Research in Art History Today. Taidehistoriallisia tutkimuksia (Studies in Art History) 46. Helsinki: Taidehistorian seura (The Society for Art History in Finland), 64–73, 2013

 

… “så länge vi på vår sida göra allt hvad i vår magt står – den mår vara hur ringa som helst – för att skapa ett konstorgan, värdigt vårt lands och vår tids fordringar.

Stockholm i December 1874. Redaktionen.”

(‘… as long as we do everything we can – however little that may be – to create an art body that is worth the claims of our countries and of our time.

From the Editorial staff, Stockholm, December 1874.’)[1]

 

These words were addressed to the readers of the first issue of the brand new art journal Tidskrift för bildande konst och konstindustri (Journal of Fine Arts and Arts and Crafts) published in Stockholm over two years in 1875–1876. One of the founding members of the journal was the Finnish academic and cultural activist Carl Gustaf Estlander (1834–1910), whose professional ambitions fit well into the picture.

I will argue that Tidskrift för bildande konst och konstindustri provided the Nordic editors of the journal with a platform to manifest their concept of art history. They developed a method of communicating the contents through a specific set of articles. The journal was a perfect 19th-century example of a project showcasing the development of a profession in the making and the use of professional networks. For Estlander, this was a gateway to the Nordic and North European art-historical discourse, and strengthened his position as the leading Finnish art historian of his time.

[1] Tidskrift för bildande konst och konstindustri 1875. Stockholm: C. E. Fritze’s Bokhandel, VIII.

Featured image: Johannes Takanen, Carl Gustaf Estlander, 1883, plaster cast, height 66cm.
Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen

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