Orderly Disorder or The Other Way Around

Carl Larsson, Lisbeth, 1894.

Misling, one of quite a few extraordinary cats we have had the priviledge of seeing on this blog, was discussing Carl Larsson last year, whether Valdemar Andersen may have been influenced by him. By the time I joined the discussion, I could only add that we have no proof of any direct contact between the two.

But the seed was sown with a feeling that Misling was right.

Carl Larsson was a household name in Scandinavia right before and after 1900 having depicted all levels of daily life in his home and family to a degree that his work to this day seems the epitome of an ideal childhood. Children in rumpled play-clothes in a home in which every corner is decorated by their own parents, creating a warm and intimate atmosphere and where sun seems to be always shining.

Of course Valdemar knew his Carl Larsson. And to a greater degree than I had thought, once I took a closer look at the latter with Valdemar in mind.

Carl Larsson, Lisbeth in her Night Dress with a Yellow Tulip, 1984

Valdemar Andersen, Poster for Carlsberg Citronsodavand (lemon soda), 1908.
Shown with permission from Designmuseum Danmark.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo; it was taken by me for study purposes.

Carl Larsson and Valdemar Andersen both worked across the very decade when Symbolism was at its zenith. As directly as a child may seem to have been caught on paper, the directness had a symbolical value on its own in which children personified purity. We find the profile of an innocent girl contemplating a flower everywhere in Symbolism, an eternity not touched upon by human hand (I apologize for the lewdness implied). I rather like the thought of the solemnity all going up in soda bubbles - unless that too could be misconstrued.

- which we hardly need fear Valdemar Andersen had in mind, and even if we must assume he knew his Carl Larsson, we cannot decide if Valdemar had seen any of his works in color. He might have seen a color-plate done by hand and he possibly saw an exhibition. It shall remain a guess, but the red/golden-combination, the warmest of them all, to which is added the stripes of the skirt so as to add interest and the loose curls of the hair, seem more than a happy coincidence. 

Which do not take from Valdemar Andersen's poster. He has taken the girl out of any context; she is not even a solid figure anymore. On the contrary she is light all through as a contrast to the contour which defines her chubby cheek balanced off by the fully rounded heaviness of her neck.

Carl Larsson, Mrs Alma Theorell, 1909.
The mature woman with the vibrancy of embroidered
colors on her knee now her children are gown.
It seems the key formal aspects to her as to her possible sources of inspiration are the upright posture and the folding of the fabric all around them, or order versus disorder. The seemingly disorder, the random catching of the now, while each of the girls are placed with great care.

Carl Larsson, Erik, 1905
This even more so when we are looking at presentations of the mother and child. She spells order, the sacred mother, her skirt is arranged in a cascade to the one side with that something on her knee consisting of layers and layers of clothes in disorder, the free toddler moving as it pleases.

Carl Larsson, Mrs. Dora Lamm and Her Two Eldest Sons, 1903

The free spirit to be seen as such when at rest nestled on his mother's lap, such as Valdemar Andersen's own son, Ib Andersen. A future cartoonist himself, and already restlessly checking out the world, grapping hold of his mother, who is in loving profile. She is visibly conscious of being drawn in the arrangement of her lines running to the tip of her shoe, holding on to the child to keep him still for as long as her husband needs for the drawing.

The two central K's of the text mirror the one word in the other, while the teddy bear has been dropped on the floor pointing to Valdemar Andersen's signature.

Valdemar Andersen, drawing for the Christmas Concert arranged by the daily Politiken, 1909.
Shown with permission from The Centre for Maps, Prints and Photographs, The Royal Library.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photo; it was taken by me for study purposes.

A composition with the appearance of not being composed, which is of course the epithet of the ideal at play here. The Christmas drawing proved so popular that it was repeated year after year.

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