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Chairs from the Swedish Empire at Mälsåker 2023.

About the Collection and the research

I have had the privilege of growing up surrounded by interesting objects and furniture with a well documented provenance – mainly from the Holtermann, von Rosen and Fleming families. My interest in these objects and especially furniture in early modern Scandinavia, was there from the beginning.

    At some point during the pandemic, I asked myself the question: "What is actually left of all the objects from the 17th century on the online market-places?". In Sweden, we have always cherished the 18th century, its culture, fashion and furniture styles. But the 17th century has always felt further away and not as easily accessible in the same way.

    After a few quick searches I found some very old chairs on "Blocket" and "Marketplace". The sellers had no knowledge of the items they were selling. For them, the chairs were something that disturbed their white Scandinavian interiors. Uncomfortable, rickety and worn. Over time, the collection has grown to nearly 50 chairs from the era of the Swedish Empire.

    With the collection came the research. I wanted to learn more about the era, the furniture, the interiors. How orders, seaborne logistics, and the domestic production of furniture went about. I discovered that there were more questions than answers when it came to 17th century chairs.

    Work in progress – my research will hopefully result in a book. In January this year, I received a generous printing grant from Riddarhuset and right now I am applying for a grant to be able to carry out a dendrochronological analysis of the wood in a number of old chairs. This is very interesting, as it can often be very difficult to more precisely date these pieces of furniture, as the provenance is often non-existent.

    As part of the work with the research, I have curated two mini exhibitions at Mälsåker and Örbyhus castle this summer. There is also a feature where I discuss the baroque drain phenomenon in Talkshow in P1, Sveriges Radio

If you are interested in knowing more about my research or if you are researching the subject yourself, do not hesitate to send me an email.


Carl Fredrik Holtermann
collector and acting curator at Årsta Castle Museum


Above: Me, five years old, on an early

18th century side chair.

Below right: Chairs from the collection in Erik XIV's prison at Örbyhus. Photo: Josephine d'Otrante.

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