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Daydreamer – Required Reading by Carl Larsson

Daydreamer – Required Reading by Carl Larsson

Article by Anders E. Johnson

We are onlookers to a window of another age. A time when things were simpler, as some might argue, and when life still held that ‘old-world charm’ and fuzzy-warm sentiment. Yet although nowadays we may have more advanced technologies which better our life and we can no longer relate to the asperous day-to-day living of Scandinavia during the early 20th century; we, however, nonetheless still possess the same human spirit which our ancestors have felt just the same as we.

In Carl Larsson’s painting Required Reading, we see a young boy, Larsson’s son, sitting near a reading room window at a half table desk painted in dark green. Atop the table we notice a jar of black ink with a dip pen, a copy book, and his assigned mandatory reading. The furniture resonates an inheritance of Baroque design, with its curves, divots, and carvings; but it has a Scandinavian, Swedish touch to it. Something, although, seems a bit off in regards to the subject and the title: the young student is not reading diligently so as to complete his task, but has been caught up in a daze of lofty day dreaming, which so often happens to befall the youngest and oldest studiers alike, from the olden days and even in our contemporary era.

Daydreamer - Required Reading by Carl Larsson
Required Reading by Carl Larsson
1900, Sweden

Required Reading was completed in the year 1900, just at the turn of the 20th century. This painting displays Larsson’s development of what is now labeled as the Arts and Crafts Movement. This art style is often characterized by its simpler, geometric shapes with attention placed upon general form, composition, and lighting of objects, rather than discrete, fine details. There are also traces of Art Nouveau styling dabbled throughout this paining, which at the time was a beginning, young art movement. Both movements shake hands with curving lines, the rendition of simpler forms, traditional and folk motifs; and romantic decoration.

Daydreamer - Required Reading by Carl LarssonThe time of the painting seems to be in the late morning hours or early afternoon. The sun is shining bright and illuminating the garden flowers sitting outside the windowsill. The thoughts of this young student perhaps are busy frolicking away on the tops of sun rays and through the crisp garden grass. His desire is anything but the completion of his homework.

The interior of this room displays a definition example of traditional mid to late 19th century Swedish design. Carl Larsson’s wife, Karin Larsson, was a respected and skillful interior designer. The colors of the room coordinate well.

The particular color chosen by Karin for the walls: a bright reddish orange, is typical of Swedish, and in general, Scandinavian design. It is often seen in the infamous Dalacarlian horses (which have now become a symbol of Sweden). The cheery orange walls nuzzle the dark forest-green furniture in an utmost perfect union.

The next time we are overcome with boredom or sluggishness to complete our mundane tasks, we can rest assured that such a feeling is nothing new and nothing novel; but on the contrary, has dwelt with mankind from century to century.

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