Advent Calendar 2015 · Art History

December 17th: New Year’s Night by Julius Johann Ferdinand Kronberg

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Julius Johann Ferdinand Kronberg (Swedish, 1850-1921), “New Year’s Night”, 1911. Photo by Sofi via Flickr (Creative Commons). https://www.flickr.com/photos/sofi01/11655644104/

I found this painting on Pinterest, and I’m absolutely fascinated by it. The artist is Swedish painter Julius Johann Ferdinand Kronberg (1850-1921), but all I could find out about him was that he studied and taught at the Royal Swedish Academy, that he painted commissions for the Swedish monarchy, and that he was a Symbolist. I also cannot determine the identity of the figure in New Year’s Night (1911), though I assume he or she is a saint. I find the combination of white snow, blue atmosphere, and inky-blue trees very striking and unusual. The beautifully elegant figure of the cloaked, sword-carrying saint is quite moving in his mysteriousness and dignity. Who is he? What does he represent, and what does he have to do with New Year’s? This painting is surely Symbolism at its finest.

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