Astri Taube was a prominent sculptor and an artisan.
Astri Taube was born in 1898. She was the daughter of Herman Bergman, artistic welder to the royal court, and his wife Mélen. Astri Taube grew up in Stockholm. She was the eldest of four siblings. Herman Bergman ran his own artistic welding studio and had his own exhibition hall. Astri Taube therefore gained early exposure to many contemporary artists, such as her godfather Carl Milles, Carl Eldh, and Christian Eriksson. She also received parental support and encouragement in her own artistic expression.
Astri Taube was thoroughly educated. Having attended the French school she then went on to study at Tekniska skolan (now Konstfack, college of arts, crafts, and design), the Sigrid Blomberg sculpting school, as well as the Caleb Althin and Carl Wilhelmson schools of painting. She spent 1920 in Paris, followed by four years at Konstakademien (the academy of art) in Stockholm where one of her teachers was Carl Milles. During her time in Paris she met the author, composer, and artist Evert Taube. They got married in Stockholm in 1925. After their wedding the couple travelled to Italy where they worked and studied. They put on several joint exhibitions. Their first exhibition was held at the Galleri Gummeson in Stockholm in 1925.
Early on in her career Astri Taube began to focus on applied arts and engraved decorations which were welded and sold through Herman Bergman’s company. While still young she provided the decorations for the Rio cinema on Hornsgatan in Stockholm (nowadays Folkoperan) which was inaugurated in 1928. She created elegant dogs, birds, fish, and flowers out of white stucco on the magnificent blue ceiling.
As Astri Taube’s family expanded she increasingly became responsible for childcare and running the family home and thus her time for artistic endeavours shrank. Nevertheless she still managed to produce a lot of commissioned works, mainly portraits, and these were vital to the family income. She also got the money together – partly through selling a fountain figure to Finland – to acquire a plot where the family summerhouse Sjösala was eventually constructed. She often used her own children as models for her sculptures and she made numerous portraits of her husband Evert Taube. Her first sculpted portrait of him dates from 1920 in Rome whilst the last one was made in conjunction with his 85th birthday.
Astri Taube only had her first solo exhibition in 1974, but from the following year until her death she held more than 25 solo exhibitions. She also painted watercolours, often depicting themes based on Sjösala, Greece, and Provence, or inspired by her husband’s ballads. Some of her graphic prints were printed in France by Fernand Mourlot. However, it was mainly through her expressive children’s portraits that Astri Taube became known to posterity. Her favourite models for sculpting were children and one of her portraits of a child can be seen at Moderna museet.
Astri Taube’s portrait of the actor Ulf Palme is perhaps one of her more notable creations, held as part of the Swedish national portrait collection at Gripsholm, and medals and plaques at the royal mint – Sveriges Ekonomiska Museum in Stockholm. Her fountain figure Gosse med fiskar can be seen outside the Ulleråker hospital in Uppsala and in Falkenberg. Her portrait of Evert Taube is held at Liseberg in Gothenburg as well as the couple’s funerary monument at the Maria cemetery in Stockholm. Liseberg also has Astri Taube’s sculpture of four clowns, modelled by Charlie Rivel. Rottneros sculpture park has one of her portraits of Selma Lagerlöf.
Astri Taube died in Stockholm in 1980. She is buried at the Maria cemetery.