Swedish Jugendstil

Swedish Cut Crystal Decanter and Stems (LEO Design)

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Art Nouveau Movement swept across Scandinavia, Finland and (to a lesser extent) into Western Russia (St. Petersburg, in particular).  In architecture, it was called The National Romantic Style (or, sometimes, by the German name “Jugendstil”) and it sought to breathe new life into civic and domestic architecture, expressing progressive social and political ideals.  Likewise, the greater Art Nouveau Movement (in craft and decorative arts) was a reaction against the pervasive ills of industrialism and a faster-moving world.  As with other Western schools of Arts & Crafts, the Swedish branch found inspiration in nature, from materials, and revived themes and motifs from national folklore or ancient culture and history.

One famous Swedish Jugendstil designer was Alf Wallander.  After studying art in Paris, he returned to Stockholm and found work designing for the ceramics maker Rörstrand.  In addition to this work, Wallander sought to replicate the British Arts & Crafts model which he admired—by which he would design a space including the furniture, lighting, textiles, tableware, ceramics, metalware, and other decorative objets.

The tray above, of hand-hammered brass, was made in Sweden in the Jugendstil period.