The gallery terrace at Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, Photo: © Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde
Edward Burne-Jones, Love and the Pilgrim, 1896-7, Oil on canvas, 1575 x 3048 mm, Photo: © Tate Britain

Boundary-breaking art and royal friendships

TEXT: LINNEA DUNNE | PHOTOS © PRINS EUGENS WALDEMARSUDDE|STOCKHOLMS AUKTIONSVERK|TATE BRITAIN

Between lush greenery and the waters of the Stockholm archipelago, a stronghold for culture presents world-class art, architecturally admirable reception rooms, rare flora and a fascinating past – all thanks to a passionate prince. And this year, visitors get the opportunity to get closer to his gifted friends and acquaintances.

“The Prince created his ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, this holistic work of art, with collaboration and integration of different art forms in mind. That was also central to the artist community Grez-sur-Loing, south-east of Paris, at the end of the 1800s,” says Karin Sidén, superintendent and director at Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde in Stockholm’s archipelago, about the new exhibition that showcases work by Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon artists who spent time in the artists’ colony, including Carl Larsson, Julia Beck and Frank O’Meara. The Prince was friends with many of the artists personally, and relationships – including friendship as well as different forms of romantic relationships – are depicted in many of the pieces. “Personal inspiration, including across national borders, is a theme in the exhibition,” Sidén continues. “It’s a wonderful exhibition with plein air painting, landscapes, friendship portraits and much more.”

Later this autumn, another of the Prince’s acquaintances gets to inspire visitors at Waldemarsudde, as the Edward Burne-Jones – the Pre-Raphaelites and the Nordics exhibition opens its doors. Around 50 pieces borrowed from Tate Britain and elsewhere in the UK and Europe will show how the legendary Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones inspired others, in particular Nordic artists. “Prince Eugen met him in 1896 during a trip to London,” says Sidén. “His work is an exciting mix of striking portraits and pieces alluding to fairy-tales and myths. He and the other Pre-Raphaelite artists were very influential in the Nordics at the time, and this exhibition will also touch on the work of some of the Prince’s artist friends and acquaintances whom they inspired, including Georg Pauli and Edvard Munch.”

This cross-border, cross-genre fluidity, so evident in both these exhibitions, is integral to Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde – not only in its identity as a ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, but also in its reputation as a world-class hub for classic as well as contemporary art. The place has been deemed so inspiring, in fact, that it has won countless awards and accolades, winning Best Exhibitions and Most Enjoyable Atmosphere this year when the people of Stockholm voted on all the city’s museums. “We’re very proud,” says Sidén, “not just because the competition is fierce, but also because if people appreciate our exhibitions, it means that they will function as a vehicle and make sure that people keep coming back.”

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