Few artists have had a major impact on Nordic folklore and storytelling such as Swedish John Bauer. John Bauer is one of Sweden's most beloved artists and is best known for his fairy tale motifs with trolls and princesses which was published in the early editions of the fairy tale collection Bland Tomtar och Troll. Who was the young man from Jönköping and what happened to him?
John Albert Bauer was born on June 4, 1882 in Jönköping, where his parents, among other things, ran a successful business charcuterie movement. Already at the age of 16, John moved to Stockholm to train as an artist. In Stockholm he met his future wife, the beautiful artist Esther Ellqvist who was also a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The relationship was characterized by strong passion and love but also a lot of jealousy and ambivalence. They married in 1906 in Gränna and had a son together, Bengt "Putte". Both Putte and Esther became models for several of John's famous works.
Most of Bauer's paintings consist of watercolors, but some he also painted in oil. In the mid-1910s, John Bauer is just over thirty years old, but already an established and recognized artist. The famous fairy tale artist has for many years illustrated and painted motifs with trolls, princesses, elves, and giants. Pressed by demands and expectations, he sometimes doubts himself as an artist and wants to paint more than his fairy tale motifs. After 1915, he resigned from the task of illustrating "Among elves and trolls" and sought new ways of expressing his imagination. Monumental art became a new form of expression that marked Bauer's last years with well-known works such as The Dancing Nymphs, Blue Eve, Fanstyg and Freja.
The Dancing Nymphs by John Bauer from 1915.
On November 20, 1918, the whole family met a tragic fate when the steamboat Per Brahe as they sank in an autumn storm on Lake Vättern and they perished. John was only 36 years old. It would later turn out to be sewing machines, among other things from Husqvarna which were misloaded on board and created devastating conesekvenser in the severe storm.
John Bauer's paintings and illustrations in chronological order
In the forest (Into the Forest), 1901
An Old Mountain Troll (An Old Mountain Troll), 1904
Troll on the move (A Troll's Journey), 1907
The trolls in Domberget wait for strangers (The Trolls of Domberget), 1907
There was one named Jock (The Giant), 1909
A Forest Troll (A Forest Troll), 1909
The bird song (Birdsong), 1910
Will Vallareman (A Fairy Tale Shepard), 1910
Mary with the Child (Maria and the Child), 1911
Fröja hos Svipdag på Singastein (Svipdag), 1911
She often snuck out into the mist to feel the good smell (The Cabin in the Woods), 1911
Santa Claus (The Christmas Goat), 1911
The giant who slept for ten thousand years (The Awakened Giant), 1912
Poor little Basse !, 1912
Trollörten (The Gift), 1912
What do you want here in my forest? she shouted as Santa came walking (The Hulder), 1912
The moose hunters (Northern Serenity), 1912
Brother Saint Martin and the three trolls (St. Martin and the Trolls), 1913
The Princess and the Trolls (The Princess and the Trolls), 1913
Cataract and Shot in the Forest (Crescent Moon), 1913
Tuvstarr is still sitting and looking down into the water (Tuvstarr), 1913
It was downright impossible to put up with such barking, howling bastards (Troll and Wolves), 1914
He became sharper and angrier in his mood, as time went on (The Gatekeeper), 1914
The Dancing Nymphs (Dancing Nymphs), 1915
A Knight Red Fram, 1915
The Boy and the Troll, 1915
Look at them, said the witch. Look at my sons! There are no more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon (The Stolen Princess), 1915
Motherly love (Motherly love), 1917
When Putte rode to Björkudden (A Ride to Björkudden), 1917
Rottrollen (The Trolls and the Child), 1917
Blue Eva 1918