Swedish Donation 1911 Erik Eriksson Etzel

In 1911, from the 2nd May to the 4th November the Scottish Exhibition of History, Art and Industry was held in Kelvingrove, Glasgow. The exhibition was formally opened on the 3rd May by the Duke of Connaught (brother of the late King Edward VII) and his wife.[1] It was not on the same scale as the exhibitions of 1888 and 1901 however over its course it attracted 9.4 million visitors. Its central point was the Stuart Memorial in Kelvingrove Park surrounded by a number of palaces, the principal one being the Palace of History which was modeled on Falkland Palace. It divided into four galleries, one of which, the West Gallery, dealt with the historical ties between Sweden and Scotland.

Figure 1. Site Plan 1911 Exhibition – from Study Group website. http://www.studygroup.org.uk/Exhibitions/Pages/1911%20Glasgow.htm

One of the exhibition’s key objectives was to fund the creation of a Chair of Scottish History and Literature at Glasgow University, which was achieved, the Chair being founded in 1913. [2], [3]

Between 1909 and 1911 a number of visits between the two countries had been made to determine what the Swedish/Scottish exhibition should contain. The Swedish committees were led by Professor Oscar Montelius, of Uppsala University, a noted pre-historian and archeologist, and Dr. E.E. Etzel of Stockholm and Uppsala University. The convener of the Scottish committee was John S. Samuel. [4], [5]

The agreed Swedish exhibits included the following items:

  • from Professor Montelius, prehistoric artifacts from graves and tombs in Sweden, similar to objects found in Scotland
  • a collection of medals struck in honour of celebrated Scotsmen from the Swedish Academy of Science
  • pistols, guns and daggers made in Scotland and taken to Sweden by Scottish soldiers of fortune, loaned by the Royal Armoury in Stockholm
  • heraldic shields of Swedish Nobles of Scottish extraction. These were replicas of the originals and they were to be used again at the ‘Scots in Sweden ‘exhibition held in the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh in 1962.[6]
  • genealogical documentation of Scots who had lived and stayed in Sweden. This information was eventually published in The Scottish Historical Review in 1912, taken from work carried out by Dr. Etzel and given to the magazine by John Samuel.[7]
  • portraits of Swedish and Scottish Royalty which included two copies of portraits from the Royal Gallery in Gripsholm Castle, being the work of Swedish artist John Osterlund (1875-1953), completed between 1900 and 1910. These were the paintings eventually gifted to Glasgow at the end of the exhibition by Dr. Etzel.[8]

The first portrait was that of ‘Mary Queen of Scots as a Child’, which had been discovered during a Scottish deputation to Sweden in 1909. The catalogue of the exhibition described it as ‘a unique and valuable portrait of Mary Stuart… its existence had not previously been recorded by any historian of the period of history to which it belongs.’ The original artist was unknown and the date attributed to the painting was 1577.[9]

The other was a portrait of King Gustavus Adolphus II. Again the original artist was unknown although it had been annotated with the initials ‘G.T.’ and dated 1630.

The entry in the exhibition catalogue regarding Gustavus Adolphus is interesting in that he is described as the ‘Lion of the North and Bulwark of the Protestant religion, the hero of the 30 years war, that awful period of bloodshed, rapine and robbery that devastated Germany in the early part of the 17th century.’ It also added that his victorious armies included 13,106 Scotsmen.[10]

Figure 2. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)

In an attempt to find out more about the original paintings I contacted the National Museum of Sweden. The initial response from the museum confirmed there was a painting of ‘Maria Stuart’ in the Royal Gallery collection; inventory number NMGrh 1142, artist unknown. In a very comprehensive second reply I was informed that the museum did not now consider it to be a portrait of Mary Stuart and that it depicted an unknown girl. The inscription on the painting they believe to be later, the date of 1577 questionable and that the girl does not resemble Mary. They now list the painting as ‘possibly 16th century, or a later copy after a painting from the 16th century – Unknown child’.[11]

With reference to the painting of Gustavus Adolphus, there are a number of such paintings in museum collections in Sweden, none of which seemed to be the original we were looking for. It was suggested that as Osterlund had spent most of his life in Uppsala it may be that the original lay there, possibly within the University. I contacted Uppsala University who were able to confirm that they had a portrait, very similar to the Osterlund copy, which had been painted in the 17th century. It did not however give an exact date, and the artist is recorded as ‘The Monogramist P.G.’ who, it was thought, may be Pieter de Grebber.

Figure 3. King Gustav Adolphus II © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)

In appearance this painting fits the bill very well, and it’s possible, maybe probable that it is the one Osterlund copied, although the copy is darker in some areas.[12], [13]

In a letter to the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Sir Archibald McInnes Shaw, dated 20th November 1911 Dr. Erik Erikson Etzel formally gifted the two Osterlund copies to Glasgow.

Little is known about Dr. Etzel except that he was a D.Ph. probably from Uppsala University. He was born in 1868 in Karlskoga, Sweden. In 1902 he lived in Stockholm which is where died in 1964. [14], [15]

John Smith Samuel was the private secretary to Lord Provost McInnes Shaw, and had held that positon for 10 years serving others in that office. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1902, held various other civic positions and was a member of the Glasgow Art Club. He was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of Vasa by Professor Montelius on behalf of King Gustav V of Sweden in 1910.[16], [17]

Professor Oscar Montelius, was born in Stockholm in 1843. He studied history and Scandinavian languages at Uppsala University between 1861 and 1869. He was attached to the Museum of National Antiquities, Stockholm, from 1863 ad was appointed professor in 1888. He was the museum’s director from 1907 to 1913. Still controversial is his theory, the “Swedish typology,” suggesting that material culture and biological life develop through essentially the same kind of evolutionary process. In 1911 he was Director General of the Swedish Board of National Antiquities. He died in Stockholm in 1921.[18], [19]

John Osterlund was born in 1875 in Stockholm and was mainly known as a landscape artist and conservator of paintings, particularly church paintings. He died in 1953. [20]

[1] Glasgow Herald (1911) Glasgow, Exhibition Opened. Glasgow Herald. 4th May pp 9, 10. Mitchell Library, Glasgow

[2] The Scottish Exhibition of  History, Art and Industry:  http://www.studygroup.org.uk/Exhibitions/Pages/1911%20Glasgow.htm

[3] Glasgow University: http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=CB0018&type=C

[4] Glasgow Herald (1910) Swedish Visitors in Glasgow. Glasgow Herald. 31st August p. 7b, c. Mitchell Library.

[5] Glasgow Herald (1911) Scottish Flints at the Glasgow Exhibition. Glasgow Herald. 17th April p.11c. Mitchell Library.

[6] Glasgow Herald (1962) Scots in Sweden Exhibition. Glasgow Herald. 10th August p.14d, e. Mitchell Library

[7] The Scottish Historical Review. (1912) Vol. 9, Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons. p. 268. https://archive.org/stream/scottishhistoric09edinuoft#page/268/mode/2up;

[8] Palace of History Exhibition Catalogue. Mitchell Library reference 272126 GC 606.4 (1911).

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Karlsson, Eva Lena (2012) Gustavus Adolphus II. E-mail to author.

[12] Thornlund, Asa (2012) Gustavus Adolphus II. E-mail to author.

[13] Thornlund, Asa (2012) Gustavus Adolphus II. E-mail to author.

[14] Forsberg Family Tree. http://forsberg.foppa.nu/individual.php?pid=I5158&ged=Family%20Forsberg:

[15] The Scottish Historical Review. (1912) Vol. 9, Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons. p. 268. https://archive.org/stream/scottishhistoric09edinuoft#page/268/mode/2up

[16] Eyre Todd, George (1909) Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909. Glasgow: Gowans and Grey Ltd. Glasgow Digital Library. http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/eyrwho/eyrwho1601.htm:

[17] Glasgow Herald (1910) Swedish Visitors in Glasgow. Glasgow Herald. 31st August p. 7b, c. Mitchell Library

[18] Encyclopaedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Oscar-Montelius:

[19] Karlsson, Eva Lena (2012) Gustavus Adolphus II. E-mail to author.

[20] Ibid.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.