Gerda Sprinchorn was one of the early female sculptors in Sweden.
Gerda Sprinchorn was born in 1871. She was the daughter of Carl Ludvig Sprinchorn, an accountant, and Hildegard Juliana Littmark. She trained at Konstakademien (the academy of art) in Stockholm during the 1893–1900 period. One of her instructors was John Börjesson. Her presentation piece, entitled Peri vid paradisets port, earned her the Hertigliga medal in 1899. The following year she was awarded the Kungliga medal for her sculpture called Kleopatra. This piece was generally well-liked for its accomplished design and the sense of movement it conveyed. Details, such as Kleopatra’s head-dress and her throne ornamented with reliefs, lent a sense of realism to the depiction of her suicide, as the poisonous snake prepares to strike her chest. This piece gained general acclaim at the first exhibition held by Föreningen Svenska Konstnärinnor (Swedish female artists’ society) in 1911 and was long considered to be Gerda Sprinchorn’s best piece. Unfortunately, according to the memoires of Elsa Björkman-Goldschmidt, the sculptor herself destroyed it.
Once Gerda Sprinchorn had completed her academic training she spent just short of a year in Paris where she appears not have felt particularly settled. None of her sculptures can definitively be dated to that period. In contrast, her trips to the Dalarna area in 1904, 1905, and 1907 resulted in several ethnographically realistic statuettes such as Israelsfaster, a seated female figure of Leksand origins dressed for mourning and reading her hymnbook, and Gubbe och gumma, depicting an elderly couple similarly dressed in traditional costume. Gerda Sprinchorn spent the year of 1906 in Italy. Her visit to Capri resulted in Flickan med korg på huvudet as well as the snot-nosed Nanina, drying her nose on her skirt hem. Gerda Sprinchorn’s Finnish travels provided models for her sculptures called Finngubbe and Storebror, the latter of which was a young Sami boy heading off with his younger brother in his arms. Traditionally-clad rural folk was a dominant theme of her early pieces along with decorative items such as lamps, inkstands, and a holy-water receptacle. Once she, along with her life companion the Finnish ceramist Ragnhild Godenius, obtained their own firing-oven in Rönninge handmade art became increasingly important to Gerda Sprinchorn as the years went by. Together they tried out new glazings which Gerda Sprinchorn – inspired by Japanese ceramics – also used on smaller sculptures such as Flöjtblåsare and Japanska. These can be seen as part of the National museum collections.
One of Gerda Sprinchorn’s best-known pieces is the half-metre tall Helig dans, depicting a woman moving forwards with her arms outstretched wearing thin wind-blown rumpled clothing. The model was cast in 1913 and was intended to be followed up by a contrasting image entitled Profan dans although it was never completed. Instead, Gerda Sprinchorn created a small sculpture called Danse macabre in terracotta. She viewed Helig dans as “something clean and strong and calm”. She was celebrating simplicity and reliability, which can also be seen in the whole-body portrait of Per Henrik Ling, wearing a shirt and long trousers, leaning against a pommel horse. Gerda Sprinchorn was very interested in sports and her sculptures include designs called Kulstötare and Skridskoåkare, whilst she herself was a member of Kvinnliga Fäktklubben (women’s fencing club).
Gerda Sprinchorn was a much-liked and humour-filled member of societies and her portraits were spot-on. In 1904 she created a bust of Anders de Wahl and produced portrait reliefs of her artistic friends Charlotte Wahlström, Ingeborg Åkerman, and Hildegard Thorell (from 1931, located in Solna cemetery). Her sculpture Linnéstaty was raised in 1948 at the site of the old parsonage next to the church in Stenbrohult. She had already made her model of the Linné (Linnaeus) figure in 1907 but it took 40 years before she was able to see it as a completed public monument. Linné is portrayed as a young, powerful man, absorbed by the mysteries of plants. This is Gerda Sprinchorn’s only public artwork.
Gerda Sprinchorn died in Stockholm in 1951.