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To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Classic & Asian 15-18 June 2021

After a few years in France, Julia Beck settles in Vaucresson, outside Paris, where the surrounding woods and parks offer her endless opportunities for scenic subjects. She seeks out the woods and fields, often early in the morning, to depict her favourite subjects – streams and water lily ponds. Sometimes her water images are shrouded in mist, giving them a mysterious shimmer and a unique atmosphere. Perhaps it is the aspiring Northern European in her that shines through, while at the same time her paintings are marked by the French light with pleasant colours. Inga Zachau in ”De drogo till Paris – Nordiska konstnärinnor på 1880-talet” describes this further: ”She had lived so long in France that her art was French to the last detail. Over them rests the French haze that makes the colours pleasantly mild. Julia Beck liked to paint river landscapes embedded in mist, which gives the paintings a reflective atmosphere”. When later asked why she didn’t move back to Stockholm, she gave a painter’s answer: “In Sweden I could never learn to paint the sun – it is so hard to see, the air is clear, oui, but in Normandy the atmosphere is misty and there I could see the sun glittering in the haze and on the sea.”

Beck balanced Swedish artistic traditions with international trends. The influence of Japonisme, which swept through Europe in the second half of the 19th century, is clearly visible in the long, narrow format that Beck often used. Even the sometimes tight cropping of the subject and perspective is particularly evident in the auction’s impressive museum-quality panoramas. At the same time, French open-air painting and Impressionist trends meet in a unique harmony. Inspired by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), who worked in this region, Beck, like the master, captured the many ponds on her canvases. The shimmering water mirrors with reflections of the surrounding vegetation are Beck’s most sought-after subjects.

Catalogue number 699 ”Mirroring the water on a pond with water lilies”, brings to mind Claude Monet’s famous water lily paintings. As a section of the pond it is honest but entirely unremarkable. There is no horizon. The foreground reeds have a calligraphic flourish, as do her name so stylishly signed with a practised hand. The Water lilies on the pond, a recessional tool, leads the eye effortlessly through the picture. Beck has used sweeping brushstrokes which she effectively applied in layers. The freshness of those hours on the bank of the pond is all there. It’s a tone poem, a symphony made up of natures various elements; the multitude of colors is a reflection of both the water surface and the water lilies, while simultainously functioning as a mirror of the sky above, all lending the picture an inner light. The result is outstanding and arguably it is one of Julia Beck’s finest paintings.

Catalogue number 700 ”Pond with water lilies, sun reflections and fog veils” can subject wise be related to ”The last rays of sunshine” from 1888 in the collection of Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (inv. no. NM 2618). The golden rays of the sun dance across the surface of the water, and just above, the early morning mist slowly recedes and the day breaks.

Already in Grez-sur-Loing, Beck was fascinated by watercourses, rivers or marshland. August Strindberg in ”Among French Peasants”, 1886 describes her indefatigable work method: ”Julia Beck sat for several weeks in rain and fog and even travelled with horse and cart or walked around in big clogs to get her grey weather mood fully right”. Already during her lifetime Julia Beck became a highly regarded artist. Her outdoor paintings exude tranquillity and the beauty of unspoilt nature. In 1934 she was awarded the French Legion of Honour.

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Julia Unge Sörling


Classic Art & Old Masters
Phone: +46 (0)701-08 14 08

Sofie Bexhed

Head of Sales

Phone: +46 (0)705-22 61 62