Christian Eriksson - Soap Box, 1897

Christian Eriksson (1858 - 1935)

Soap Box, 1897

Silver (gilded interior), 7.2 x 16.5 x 9.5 cm (2 13/16 x 6 1/2 x 3 3/4 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

M21w15

Provenance

Comissioned by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the artist Christian Eriksson (1858-1935), Paris in about 1894, through the Swedish painter and etcher Anders Zorn (1860-1920).
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner for 2,000 francs from Christian Eriksson in 1897, through Anders Zorn.

Marks

Inscribed (lower edge): Chr. Eriksson Paris 97

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), pp. 182-83. (as 1895-1897)
Helge Kjellin. Christian Eriksson, 1858-1935 (Stockholm, 1953), p. 119.
Michelle Facos. Swedish Impressionism’s Boston Champion: Anders Zorn and Isabella Stewart Gardner. Exploring Treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum VI. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1993), p. 40, n31.
Annalena Norström. Skuptören Christian Eriksson och hans minnegard: Oppstuhage (Karlstad, 1997), p. 61. (under other works; as tvalask, 1894-1895)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), p. 216, ill. (as 1897)
Alan Chong. "Mrs. Gardner's Two Silver Boxes by Christian Eriksson and Anders Zorn." Cleveland Studies in the History of Art 9 (2003), pp. 222-29, figs. 3a-b. (as 1897)
Anne-Marie Eze in Oliver Tostmann et al. Anders Zorn: A European Artist Seduces America. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2013), p. 162, no. 27; pp. 177, 181-82, nos. 19-20, 37-40. (as 1897)


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Commentary

Christian Eriksson studied in Stockholm, worked as a furniture maker in Hamburg, and then lived in Paris between 1883 and 1897 before returning to Sweden. He made portraits and large-scale sculptures for Swedish public buildings, including two monumental sandstone reliefs on the facade of Stockholm’s opera house (1907).

Much of Eriksson’s early work consists of small-scale vases and vessels in silver and bronze. This delicate hinged box shows a girl partly submerged in a stone tub – almost a travertine fountain. She ripples the water, an effect beautifully rendered in the worked surface of the silver. Two figures (her parents, according to Anders Zorn) decorate the sides of the tub. Playful in design and finely worked, the object combines Swedish themes with the spirit of Parisian art nouveau.

The painter Anders Zorn arranged for Eriksson to make the box for Mrs. Gardner. He may also have helped select the theme, since bathing was one of Zorn’s favorite subjects, and Gardner already owned Zorn’s painting of a mother and child bathing in a stream (p. 212). Zorn had earlier offered to make a jewelry box for Mrs. Gardner. Zorn’s completed object (Zorn Museum, Mora) is very similar in style and concept to Eriksson’s box, but Zorn was loathe to part with it, and Gardner never received it.

Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 216.

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