It might seem to be out of season, but a couple of recent e-mails carried along two very nice Tenggren pieces that I'd like to share. The sender wanted me to have a look on a framed print, once given to his grandfather, who had been a commercial artist and had received the picture from Tenggren himself.
|Christmas card watercolor, 1940ies.|
I instantly recognized it as a Christmas greeting sent by Gustaf and Mollie Tenggren to friends and relatives. The version I had seen was in Swedish and sent to Robert Hartmann, probably sometimes during the 1940ies.
|Christmas card (the original card is in color). The text is in Swedish and says:|
"A merrier Christmas for You". The recipient Robert Hartman was born in Germany
but went to Sweden before WWII, married a Swedish wife and was fluent in Swedish.
But after a closer comparison, I could conclude that the sender's picture was not a print at all. The pasted-on print on the card was cropped much tighter than on his image. What he had was the real original and I could only congratulate him.
That seemed to encourage him to look for more around the house. Soon after this, he sent another item, a printed Christmas card. I had never seen it before but a similar one, which I posted here last Christmas. They are so alike that it makes you think they were two from a series of cards, probably produced in the early 1920ies.
|Christmas card, B&W print on cardboard, early 1920ies.|
|Christmas card, B&W print on cardboard, early 1920ies. |
Original signature by Gustaf Tenggren.
The motif with the poor lost characters trying to get some warmth in the cold and dark, snowy night is often used by Tenggren, and shows great compassion for the less fortunate, be it hobos or trolls.
|Christmas card, B&W ink wash with highlights in opaque white, 1927. |
One of the earliest is a painting made in Sweden in 1919, a pair of trolls in front of a lighted candle in the midst of the forest. A fair guess would be that this as well is meant for a Christmas greeting in some form; a card or an illustration.
|Trolls in the woods, watercolor 1919.|
Later in his life Tenggren returned to the theme when he illustrated H C Andersen's heartbreaking fairy tale, The Little Match Girl. The motif is similar to the Christmas card with the troll above, made some twenty years before. Even the kids at the Christmas tree are the same, just with a toddler added.
|H C Andersen, The Little Match Girl. Grosset & Dunlap 1944.|