At the moment, works for the exhibition “The Garden by the Sea” are being gathered together. Alhed Larsen’s lovely painting of apple blossoms from 1903 has been picked up at the Larsen family farm, Båxhult, in Sweden.
“First you cross the Halland Ridge to Halmstad, then take the Nissan path along the Nissan River towards Jönköbing until you’re a little ways past Hyltebruk. Then you take a right towards Låndgaryd, go through the village and continue on gravel roads out into the woods and to the left.” (Directions from Johannes Larsen’s son Lysse, from the book "The Funen Painters in Småland", 2006, page 11).
A small delegation from the museum followed just about the same route when we visited Båxhult to pick up a painting for the upcoming exhibition, Garden by the Sea.
A family farm in Småland
The wooded farm, Båxhult, lies deep in the fir forests of Småland, Sweden. The old house lies in a hilly, grey-speckled landscape, dotted with rock outcroppings between moss, grass and heather. One of Johannes Larsen’s grandchildren lives in the house; Båxhult has basically been owned by the Larsen family since Johannes Larsen’s father, the ship owner, bought the place in the 1870’s.
The farm was a favorite destination for the Funen painters from 1890 until 1905. Their close friend Fritz Syberg painted Johannes Larsen and his wife Alhed as a newly minted family in 1899. The farm remained a favorite escape for the Larsen family, with the house and its surroundings, animal life and the forest as unfailingly popular motifs in the production of paintings by family members.
Motifs from Sweden
The spring of 1927 was especially productive for Alhed, in spite of her illness. She painted some of her best pictures during this period, including “Beech leaves in the window” and “The Driveway at Båxhult”. Later that year, after Alhed’s death in August, Johannes Larsen painted his dog by the fireplace at Båxhult.
That was long ago now, but Båxhult still looks the same. The farm dog greeted us on the broad stone steps and even followed us a bit of the way when we left at the end of the afternoon.