12/26/12

Urban målare / Jacob Elbfas, The Sun Dog Painting (Vädersolstavlan)

Storkyrkan, Stockholm

Date: 1535, 1636
Technique: Oil on panel, 163 x 110 cm

Vädersolstavlan (Swedish for "The Sun Dog Painting") is an oil-on-panel painting depicting a halo display, an atmospheric optical phenomenon, observed over Stockholm on April 20, 1535. It is named after the sun dogs (Swedish: Vädersol, "Weather sun") appearing on the upper right part of the painting. While chiefly noted for being the oldest depiction of Stockholm in colour, it is arguably also the oldest Swedish landscape painting and the oldest depiction of sun dogs.

The original painting, which was produced shortly after the event and traditionally attributed to Urban målare ("Urban [the] Painter"), is lost, and virtually nothing is known about it. However, a copy from 1636 by Jacob Heinrich Elbfas held in Storkyrkan in Stockholm, is believed to be an accurate copy and was until recently erroneously thought to be the restored original. It was previously covered by layers of brownish varnish, and the image was hardly discernible until carefully restored and thoroughly documented in 1998–1999.

The painting was produced during an important time in Swedish history. The establishment of modern Sweden coincided with the introduction of Protestantism and the break-up with Denmark and the Kalmar Union. The painting was commissioned by the Swedish reformer Olaus Petri, and the resulting controversies between him and King Gustav Vasa and the historical context remained a well-kept secret for centuries. During the 20th century the painting became an icon for the history of Stockholm, and it is now frequently displayed whenever the history of the city is commemorated.

Source 1
Source 2

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