When my mother died (last year) and we children were clearing her house, I put in a bid for the picture thinking that no one else would be interested but discovered that every one of my four siblings was keen to have it too. Consequently, one of my sisters made copies of the picture and just before Christmas sent me one.
On the copy I noticed for the first time that there was a signature at the bottom of the picture and, through the wonders of the internet and after much trial and error with different combinations of what I thought the letters were, I discovered the artist.
|The signature on the picture|
His name was (Gustav) Robert Högfeldt. He was born in Holland in 1894 but is usually considered Swedish because that is where he spent his working life. That fitted. My mother was half-Norwegian and I’d always presumed the picture had come to her through her family as I couldn’t imagine her buying it. Our particular print was called (in translation) 'Happy families'.
As children we used to go to Norway every summer and play on the beach with cousins. In my teens I went several times on my own, two or three times to ski and once in the summer again. I bought my mother two more Högfeldt prints on one of the visits (not knowing the artist’s name but recognising the style).
So now I wondered whether I could buy an early print of ‘Happy families’ for myself. I trawled the internet and saw many examples of Högfeldt work. Most of his paintings turned out to be humorous, not to say grotesque, and many of them have a folk-tale flavour with troll- and pixie-like creatures, fat peasants, mushrooms. Unfortunately I also discovered that he has fallen out of favour because of his cruel portrayal of black people, and there was little to buy.
This summer Frog and I are going to Norway for a huge family party being given by my mother’s sister, who lives there. It will be Frog’s first-ever visit to the country and my first for about 45 years. Phew.
During the visit I shall keep a look-out for Högfeldt prints, in particular ‘Happy families’. But if in the meantime you can help in any way, do please get in touch.