Sweden, Nationalmuseum acquires a dreamy work by Alice Nordin, a memory of a love

The Nationalmuseum Museum in Stockholm has acquired the work "A Memoir" by Alice Nordin, a prominent sculptor of the early 20th century: it represents the dreamy memory of a love affair. It will be displayed in a major exhibition on women sculptors in 2022.

Important acquisition for the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, which obtained a work by Swedish sculptor Alice Nordin (Stockholm, 1871 - 1948). It is a patinated plaster sculpture depicting a woman with her head reclined, her face resting on her hands clasped to the side, as if she were sleeping: she is in fact caught with her eyes closed and a dreamy expression. The sculpture, known as A Memoir, dates from 1904, and its style reflects Alice Nordin’s interest in symbolism and art nouveau. According to what Alice Nordin claimed, the model for the work was artist Gerda Nordling, a family friend.

The “memory” depicted by the sculpture refers to a meeting between Alice Nordin and composer and conductor Hugo Alfvén (Stockholm, 1872 - Falun, 1960) that took place in Paris in the spring of 1898. Alice Nordin was twenty-seven years old at the time and had received a medal from the Stockholm Academy of Fine Arts, with which she also earned a study stay in the French capital, and Alfvén, a year younger, was equally in France for study purposes. For a few months the two had an intense love affair, after which the two broke up after a few months: we know this because Alice Nordin kept a diary at the time, and we also know that the breakup between the two was very painful for her. During their relationship, the sculptor had made a bust similar to A Memoir: it was still a depiction of a woman with her eyes closed and her head reclined. The young woman had titled it Andante Patetico, after the third movement of Alfvén’s Violin Sonata Op. 1, also composed in 1898.

Alice Nordin exhibited both Un ricordo and Andante Patetico in 1911, in a major solo exhibition at the Konstnärshuset in Stockholm: an exhibition, moreover, of great importance, because it was the first time the institution had hosted a solo show by a woman. It was a great success for her: “Now,” she wrote about that time, “I have a recognized name, I have earned enough money, and sometimes I think there is a feeling of calm in my troubled soul, and in some happy moments there is also satisfaction for my hungry heart (but of course it cannot last long).”

Alice Nordin’s work was also appreciated by her contemporaries for its ability to evoke lyrical feelings and to give body to the feminine intimate: she was basically recognized as a genuine sculptor who followed her own feelings. Recently, critics have also focused on the originality of her forms of expression, as she was also a very modern artist. Alice Nordin studied, as anticipated, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, where she received the king’s medal that allowed her to spend a study period in France.After moving to Paris, she experienced a wandering period throughout Europe, which allowed her to participate in numerous important exhibitions. She then also had a notable career as a ceramist. In 1905 she was named Sweden’s most important woman artist following a survey by Idun magazine.

A souvenir thus adds to Alice Nordin’s other works in the Nationalmuseum’s collection, which already numbers some 20 (these are mainly marble and bronze sculptures, but there are also a few ceramics). Several of these sculptures are recent acquisitions, many of which will form the core of the Female Sculptors exhibition scheduled at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in the spring of 2022. The acquisition of Un ricordo was made possible by resources donated by a private individual, Rurik Öberg.

Image: Alice Nordin, A Memoir (1904; patinated plaster; Stockholm, National Museum, inv. NM Sk 2395)

Sweden, Nationalmuseum acquires a dreamy work by Alice Nordin, a memory of a love
Sweden, Nationalmuseum acquires a dreamy work by Alice Nordin, a memory of a love

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