French Paintings I
By Pontus Grate
Whereas an important part of the eighteenth-century French paintings have belonged to the National Museum ever since it was established in 1792 thanks to the conversion of the royal collections into the Royal Museum, these collections contained hardly any French paintings from the seventeenth century. A number of French portraits from that period remained in the various royal castles and are now part of the holdings of the Swedish National Art Museums. With few exceptions, these are rather stereotyped replicas or copies. Yet Sweden maintained close political and cultural relations with France throughout the seventeenth century and the Royal family and the nobility vied with each other in importing designs for furniture and interiors from France as well as anything else that would serve to embellish palaces and manors in the fashionable French manner. However, after the enthusiastic collector, Queen Christina, abdicated and left the country in 1654, taking a major part of the royal art collection with her to Rome, it seems that paintings other than portraits were rarely acquired. On the whole, during its period as a Great Power, Sweden was not particularly distinguished in the collection of art, nor in esthetic innovation.