In the first of these two articles about the paintings of the Swedish artist Nils Jakob Blommér (1816-1853) I looked at a selection of his works showing figures from Norse mythology. This article looks more generally at his career, and other paintings, particularly his landscapes.
He was born as Nils Jakob Olsson in Blommeröd, a village to the east of Lund in the far south of Sweden. He was apprenticed to local portrait painters in Lund until the Spring of 1839, when he moved to Stockholm, changed his last name to Blommér, and enrolled in the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. There he excelled, winning several medals, and in 1847 was awarded a travel bursary which funded a journey through Europe.
During his final year at the Academy, Blommér became involved with the Artists’ Guild, formed to create “a nobler national art”. He also painted this fine portrait of Princess Eugénie of Sweden in 1846. This princess of Sweden and Norway (the two modern nations were one at that time) was just sixteen at the time, and already an amateur artist herself. Despite her appearance here, she was a tomboy in her childhood and youth, and refused to marry.
Blommér first travelled to Germany, where he stayed for two months, much of the time in the company of the romantic painter Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871), whose work showed scenes from chivalry and literature. King Krokus and the Wood Nymph from about 1855 is an example.
Around 1850, Blommér was in Paris, where he was a pupil of Léon Cogniet, and from there he travelled on to Italy. The majority of his accessible paintings are sadly undated, so it’s hard to know where he painted them.
This sketch of a Bearded Man is marked as being painted in Paris.
Many of his surviving works are studies painted in the French or Roman countryside, such as this one of Leaves.
This has been identified as a Landscape from Italy, and is a plein air oil sketch of the Roman Campagna in the tradition of Valenciennes, whose textbook on landscape painting was still in widespread use at the time, and may have been owned by Blommér.
This Landscape study is better-developed than that of Leaves above.
Of all these, this Landscape is the most detailed, and makes full use of the play of light at the edge of a wood.
These oil sketches suggest that Blommér was using his time in Rome to improve his landscape skills, probably using Valenciennes’ textbook. Whether his goal was to return to Sweden and paint its landscapes, or to use them as settings for further scenes from Norse mythology, isn’t clear.
In November 1852, when he was in Rome, Blommér married the Finnish painter Edla Gustafva Jansson (1817-1908).
In 1852, perhaps prior to their wedding, Blommér started work on this unfinished Portrait of a Woman, believed to show his bride Edla. This is an unusual view which might have been more appropriate as a study for a larger painting including additional figures.
Just over two months after their marriage, and before he could complete his wife’s portrait, Blommér fell ill with pneumonia, and died on 1 February 1853, at the age of only thirty-six.