John Bauer – Scandinavian mythology

John Albert Bauer (1882 – 1918) was a Swedish painter and illustrator, best known for his illustrations of the early editions (between 1907 – 1915) of an anthology of Swedish folklore, called Among Gnomes and Trolls (Bland tomtar och troll )

Besides of his artistic talent, probably he owes part of his success to his deep connection with this subject. Still as a child, Bauer was enchanted by the local stories about strange creatures living in the dense forests. Fascinated by the Swedish nature, he constantly drew an inspiration from there to convey the eerie mood of the fairy tales – old stately trees, light sneaking through the intertwined branches, huge tufts of mosses, mushrooms, and creepy roots. As per the depiction of the heroes, especially those of the princes and princesses and their clothing, he was mostly influenced by the Renaissance.

Bauer was born and raised in Jönköping but at the age of 16 he moved to Stockholm. Unfortunately his life did not last long. A tragedy occurred on the 20th of November 1918, when the ship he had embarked along with his family sank in Lake Vättern due to an overload cargo.

Though he died young, he left an impressive heritage of illustrations that are considered among the classics in fairy tales

The world’s largest collection of his artwork is exhibited in a museum in his native town. The Jönköpings läns museum owns over 1,000 of paintings, drawings and sketches by Bauer. There are also three other collections in Sweden – at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, at the Gothenburg Museum of Art and at the Malmö konstmuseum, as well one museum in Ebenhausen, Germany, dedicated especially to his life and works.