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Title: Hyperborean Baroque: David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (1628-98) and the Rhetoric of Style
Authors: Wangensteen, Kjell Magne
Advisors: Kaufmann, Thomas DaCosta
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: art patronage
Swedish art
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the transformation of painting style and practice effected by the Swedish court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (1628–98). A native of Hamburg, Ehrenstrahl spent several years studying and working in various cities across Europe before rising to prominence in Sweden in the decades following the Thirty Years War. While much in demand by aristocratic clients, he primarily served two royal patrons during his long and distinguished career: Dowager Queen Hedwig Eleonora and her son, King Karl XI, who enlisted Ehrenstrahl’s talents for a series of ambitious cultural projects when the kingdom was at the height of its wealth and power. Though steeped in a variety of contemporary artistic models, ranging from Dutch still-life to English portraiture and High Roman Baroque allegory, Ehrenstrahl refused to confine himself to one particular genre or mode of painting following his arrival in Sweden. Rather, he self-consciously appropriated, adapted, and synthesized various motifs and styles to suit a variety of purposes, including his own advancement at court. Each of the dissertation’s four chapters highlights this process of "strategic synthesis" by focusing on a different part of Ehrenstrahl’s oeuvre. The first chapter examines the diverse artistic influences that Ehrenstrahl absorbed during his studies across Europe, demonstrated by a large group of his drawings. Chapter two examines Ehrenstrahl’s numerous portraits, in which he cleverly manipulated his painting style in order to outmaneuver his artistic rivals and cater to the tastes of his patrons. Chapter three examines Ehrenstrahl’s paintings of flora and fauna, which straddle the conceptual divide between Dutch and Flemish animal painting and proto-scientific illustration that flourished in late seventeenth-century Sweden. The final chapter considers Ehrenstrahl's allegories and history paintings in light of the shift towards absolutism under Karl XI. While this dissertation comprises a monograph on Ehrenstrahl, its fundamental argument is a methodological one that predicates artistic “style” as a set of conscious decisions often made in service to practical and political aims, not just aesthetic ones. The dissertation includes a comprehensive critical catalogue of Ehrenstrahl’s drawings and paintings, as well as eleven appendices containing archival documentation of Ehrenstrahl’s life and work.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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