Ergon Sillif Lundgren

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Biography of Ergon Sillif Lundgren ( 1815-1875 )

Egron Sillif Lundgren, a Swedish artist who has settled in England more than anywhere else, is a renowned watercolourist. As a travelling painter, Lundgren, born in Sweden, comes from a family of industrialists. Initially, following the family tradition, he joined the Teknologiska institute and specialized in resource management. As soon as he graduated, he began his career at the Finspang gun foundry; he also worked in Ekilstuna. 

However, the artist, particularly attracted by creation, detached himself from his initial training. In 1835, he joined the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, a prestigious institution devoted to the promotion of painting, sculpture and architecture. Four years later, he followed the teaching of Léon Cognet, a French neoclassical and romantic painter and lithographer.  This artist, renowned for winning the prize of Rome, gives him advanced lessons in Paris. Thus, Egron Selluf Lundgren is initiated to the practice of painting, but he chooses to perfect his training by becoming a copyist at the Louvre Museum. 

Following his sojourn in Paris, the artist chose to settle in Italy, from 1841 to 1849, within the Scandinavian community in Rome. Spain will also be one of his bases for almost four years. Indeed, the artist settled in Seville, from 1849 to 1852. There he frequented John Phillip, an English painter renowned for his Spanish genre scenes. During this period, Lundgren devoted himself to the representation of historical and folk scenes, which he mainly depicted in watercolours. During his stay in England, particularly helped by his Anglophilia, the artist was solicited by the Illustrated London News, a British magazine founded in 1843, to illustrate his articles.  

Later, the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts awarded him a scholarship, which financed his stays in Vienna and Munich. Gradually, the artist abandoned oil painting and historical subjects in favour of genre scenes in watercolour, which became his preferred medium. His works now portray market life, the local population and public festivities. 

In 1850, he became a member of the Royal Academy and taught there from 1853. However, he chose to settle in London, in a more definitive way, until 1867. He mainly produced portraits, figurations of royal ceremonies at court, as well as representations of Shakespeare's plays. 

Moreover, in 1857, he met an art dealer, Thomas Agnew - a major player in the growth of the English contemporary art market. Agnew encouraged him to go to India, where he was commissioned by Sir Collin Campbell to produce sketches depicting the Sepoy mutiny as part of a relief expedition. During this trip, Lungren multiplied his military studies, drawings and portraits, some of which are presented in the private collection of Queen Victoria, who regularly commissioned him. In this context, he left for more than a year, in the company of the British army, which had taken over the military operations of the East India Company until the end of the rebellion. More than 500 watercolours and drawings are produced in this context. 

Particularly marked by his stay in India, the artist also chose to capture the colours of Egypt. He visited Cairo during the winter of 1861-1862 and shared a house on the bank of the Nile near Giza with George Boyce, a British painter renowned for his landscapes and architectural settings, and Frank Dillon, an Orientalist painter specialising in the depiction of interior scenes.

Lundgren was later asked to become a member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1864. During the 1860s, the artist multiplied his travels in Europe, as well as in the East: Spain, Norway, Egypt... And for the first time, he returned to his native land, Sweden, where he settled definitively in 1867, until the end of his days.

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