Monday, February 6, 2017

Treasures from the Nationalmusem of Sweden: The Collections of Count Tessin: Review By Polly Guerin

The Triumph of Venus, 1740  
Collectors are noted for assembling magnificent art collections, but then there is Count Carl Gustaf Tessin (1696-1770), someone you probably have never heard of before, who tops the scales when it comes to the acquisition of the great works of art by legendary painters.  
     Tessin, a diplomat and one of the great art collectors of his day was driven by a passion for art from a young age. His foray into collecting escalated during his travels at which time he established a monumental collection that eventually became part of the celebrated holdings of the Nationalmuseum of Sweden. This extraordinary new exhibition brings more than seventy-five masterpieces from Sweden exhibited in collaboration with the Morgan Library & Museum through May 14, 2017. Image Left: Francois Boucher's most beautiful mythological paintings, still in its original frame, was made for Tessin and exhibited at the 1740 Paris Salon. Venus emerges from the waves, accompanied by languorous Nereids and robust Triton's.  The Triumph of Venus was the most expensive of paintings Tessin acquired during his Paris sojourn and one of his most prized possessions, but it was among the works he was driven to sell to King Frederick I in 1749.
     TREASURES FROM THE NATIONALmuseum of Sweden: The collections of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin, a diplomat and one of the great art collectors of his day. The son and grandson of architects Tessin held posts in Vienna, Berlin and Paris, where he came into contact with the leading Parisian artists of the time and commissioned many works from them.  By the time he left Paris in 1742, he had amassed an impressive collection of paintings and drawings.
The Milliner 1746
In addition to Francois Boucher the exhibition features works by such artists as Albrecht Durer, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Antoine Watteau.  It is interesting to note that most of the paintings are in their original handcrafted elegant wood frames. It is the first collaboration between the Morgan Library and Museum and and the Nationalmuseum, Sweden's largest and most distinguished art institution. Image Left: In this celebration of feminine  luxury, adornment, and conspicuous consumption, a fashionably dressed milliner is paying a morning call on her well-to-do client who is seated in her bedroom having just completed her morning toilette. Tessin commissioned this painting from Boucher in 1745 on behalf of the twenty-five-year-old crown princess Louisa Ulrika.  
     Do take time to examine the drawings in the exhibition including works by Italian masters such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Giulio Romano and Annibale Carracci. Northern European artists are also represented by Durer, Hendrick Goltzius, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Anthony van Dyck and others.
Tessin Sells His Collection to the Royal Family Tessin's longest stay in Paris was from 1739 until 1742, when he served as Sweden's unofficial ambassador to the French Court. The cost of maintaining his lifestyle in Paris would, however, leave him with lasting financial difficulty after his return to Stockholm. As a result, in 1749, Tessin was forced to sell part of his collection to the royal family of Sweden. He sold 243 paintings to King Frederick I, who then presented them to his daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Louisa Ulrika. The series of sales to the royal family helped to form the core of the royal collection of old master drawings and paintings.  
Count Carl Gustaf Tessin , 1740
Adolf Frederick died in 1771 and was succeeded by his son King Gustav III, who had been tutored by Tessin and became an acclaimed patron of the arts.  Gustav's ambition was to establish a royal collection open to the public. After his assassination in 1792, a Royal Museum, was founded in his memory and the collection eventually formed the core of the Nationalmuseum's holdings. The Nationalmuseum opened its doors in 1866.
     This rare and legendary collection on view at the Morgan is made possible due to the fact that the Nationalmuseum is currently closed for renovations and it therefore was able to loan out treasures from Tessin collection. The Nationalmuseum will reopen in 2018. Image Left: Jacques-Andre-Joseph Aved (French, 1702-1766) portrait of Count Carl Gustaf Tessin, 1740. Oil on canvas. 
Photo credit: THE THREE IMAGES IN THIS REVIEW BY CeciliaHeisser/Nationalmuseum, Stockholm..
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! The Nationalmuseum's Tessin treasures a worth a visit to the Morgan Library & Museum where you will find unique examples of the prevalent taste during the rococo period. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the links in the left-hand column to subjects that resonate with your interest.

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