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Hedvig Gustava (Ava) Lagercrantz

1862-09-071938-05-06

Portrait artist

Ava Lagercrantz was an artist and a highly sought-after portrait painter who was active in the USA in the early twentieth century. She was commissioned to paint portraits of King Oscar II and King Gustav V.

Ava Lagercrantz was born in Karlskrona in 1862. Towards the end of 1866 she and her family moved to Stockholm where her father, Jacob Reinhold, had gained a new job. He held a naval post and was eventually promoted vice-admiral. Ava Lagercrantz displayed a talent for art at an early age. She honed her talent by studying with prominent artists both in Sweden and abroad. Her teacher in Stockholm was Kerstin Cardon, who ran her own painting school and who specialised in portrait painting.

Ava Lagercrantz lived in Paris during two distinct periods, initially from 1885–1889 and subsequently during 1893. In Paris she studied with well-known artists such as Jules Lefebvre, Tony Robert Fleury, G Boulanger, and Benjamin Constant. Her career rapidly took off and she exhibited her work at the 1888, 1889, and 1890 Paris salons. Her 1889 submission was a self-portrait which became one of her best known works. She won first prize in 1890 for the portrait she painted of her father.

Ava Lagercrantz specialised in painting portraits, flowers, and miniatures. Her creative expression involved a variety of techniques including painting in oils, pastels and miniatures. During her time in Paris one of the portraits she painted was of August Strindberg, who also intermittently lived in Paris. That portrait is on display at Dramaten in Stockholm.

Ava Lagercrantz spent the two decades between 1902 and 1923 living in New York where she primarily painted landscapes, as well as portraits and still lives with flowers. Her cousin was the Swedish envoy to Washington, Herman Lagercrantz. This personal connection served as a gateway to obtain portrait commissions from the celebrities of the day, not just within the diplomatic world but the world of opera as well. She thus began calling herself Ava de Lagercrantz as a way of demarcating her noble ancestry. She was included in the 1914–1915 year’s edition of Woman’s Who’s Who of America, revealing just how successful a painter she was. She returned to Sweden twice specifically to paint portraits of royalty, first of King Oscar II and second of King Gustav V.

In USA Ava joined an anti-suffragette organisation, the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NYSAOWS). Whether this reflected her own convictions or was done for practical reasons it was doubtlessly safer to hold that view with regard to the privileged customer circle she was moving in. Ava Lagercrantz did seem to have been an admirer of August Strindberg and if she was influenced by his complicated approach to the relationship between men and women, then perhaps her own beliefs were not too dissimilar from those of the anti-suffragettes.

In 1923 Ava Lagercrantz returned to Sweden and settled in Stockholm. A few years before her death, in 1935, she had an exhibition at Konstnärshuset. Today her work can be seen at the National museum. Ava Lagercrantz spent her final years in Paris.

Ava Lagercrantz died in 1938 and is buried at Galärvarvskyrkogården in Stockholm.


Katarina Olsson
(Translated by Alexia Grosjean)


Published 2020-05-07



You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Hedvig Gustava (Ava) Lagercrantz, www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/HedvigGustavaAvaLagercrantz, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Katarina Olsson), retrieved 2020-10-27.




Other Names

    Nickname: Ava de Lagercrantz


Family Relationships

Civil Status: Unmarried
  • Mother: Hedvig Ottilia Lagercrantz, född Lindström
  • Father: Jacob Reinhold Lagercrantz
  • Sister: Anna Gustava Charlotta Lagercrantz
more ...


Education

  • Yrkesutbildning, Stockholm: Privata konststudier, för Kerstin Cardon
  • Yrkesutbildning, Paris, Frankrike: Privata konststudier för bl a Jules Lefebvre, Tony Robert Fleury och Benjamin Constant


Activities

  • Profession: Konstnär, porträttmålare


Contacts

  • Relative: Herman Lagercrantz, kusin
  • Friend: August Strindberg


Organisations

  • The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NYSAOWS)
    Medlem


Residences

  • Birthplace: Karlskrona
  • Karlskrona
  • Stockholm
more ...


Prices/awards



Sources

Literature
  • Arosenius, Louise & Hedberg, Walborg (red.), Svenska kvinnor från skilda verksamhetsområden: biografisk uppslagsbok, Bonnier, Stockholm, 1914

  • Olsson, Katarina, Sigrid, Augusta, Anna och de andra: modiga blekingskor kring 1900, IKO utbildning, Sturkö, 2017



Further References



Ava Lagercrantz. Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 1889. Nationalmuseum (photo: Anna Danielsson – cropped)
Ava Lagercrantz. Self-portrait, oil on canvas, 1889. Nationalmuseum (photo: Anna Danielsson – cropped)

Keywords

19th century 20th century Artists