Sigrid Aminoff was an artist. She painted still lifes, portraits of close relatives and landscapes in oils and acrylic.
Sigrid Eva Gabriella Aminoff was born in 1904 in Stockholm. Her father was Count Erik Oxenstierna af Korsholm och Wasa. Her mother Siri, née Wallenberg, and her husband were given their villa Sirishov on Djurgården as a wedding present from her father. The villa had been named by its previous owner, the aristocrat Sten Abraham Piper, after his favourite pug, Siri.
Sigrid Aminoff grew up with her siblings Johan Gabriel and Margaretha at Sirishov. They had a cook, maidservant, manservant, coachman and horses. The latter became a recurrent motif in Sigrid Aminoff’s full drawing pad. The siblings used to paddle over Djurgårdsviken sometimes to a swimming stadium that had been constructed for the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912. Their father was responsible for the riding competitions during the Olympics and Sigrid and Johan Gabriel Aminoff were often at the Stadium to watch the competitions.
Cookery courses and piano lessons turned out not to be Sigrid Aminoff’s cup of tea. In some way, it was taken for granted that she was to be an artist and in 1921 she started at the art school Edward Berggrens och Gottfrid Larssons Konstskola in Stockholm. After that she studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 1925–1930. Her first teacher was Oscar Björk, but she continued on to study decorative painting, monumental painting and theatre scenography with Olle Hjortzberg. He inspired her to continue painting. Evert Lundqvist, Olle Nyman, Sven Erik Skawonius and Göta Trägårdh were some of her course comrades.
In 1930, Sigrid Aminoff travelled to Paris to study and there she met her husband-to-be, Hans Aminoff. They were married in 1933 and moved to Finland where her husband had a manor estate in Pekkala. Their daughter Antonia was born in 1934, but the marriage only lasted six years. Sigrid Aminoff remained in Finland and during the Finnish winter war she and other women made great efforts to help the suffering population.
After the war, she returned to Stockholm and dedicated herself to her work as an artist. She had had her first exhibition in Florence in 1938 and one in Helsinki the year after. Back home in Sweden, she had her first exhibition in the spring of 1940 at Galerie Moderne. There she showed oil paintings of stately Italian gardens and figure painting. One picture of a child was painted “with warmth” while most pieces “were characterised by a sure and credible realism that is slightly cool and reserved”.
Sigrid Aminoff had several strings to her bow. During her time in Finland, she was a sheep owner and stood for the scenography of a theatre production in Åbo, and well back in Sweden, she made the curtain arrangements for the carpet shop Nessims. Later on, she was involved in aid work for the Hungarian people. Inspired by Hjortzberg, she created a triptych for Hägerstad’s new church in 1930. The central picture shows Jesus in Bethany, on the left is an angel with the ten commandments and on the right an angel bearing a cross. For Horn Church she painted an altarpiece that was put up in 1951.
In the mid-1950s, Sigrid Aminoff and her friends Göta Trägårdh and Elisabeth Sundström purchased an old farm in Förslövshamn. With the assistance of local artisans, they equipped Hovaldsgården to have as a summer residence for their three families.
In 1958, Sigrid Aminoff participated in the exhibition God konst i alla hem at Galleri Brinken in Stockholm. There, her works received the praise “some simple painted pieces but with great sincerity”.
In January the following year, she had a separate exhibition at the same gallery and showed gouaches from South Africa, drawings and landscapes. One painting shows Djurgården with greenery and water and here “the light has itself sort of been allowed to mould the forms”. The critic Torsten Bergmark from the major daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter gives it the testimonial “a well-composed picture with pure ringing colours”.
Sigrid Aminoff travelled a good deal and loved bringing old pots, bottles and chamber pots home with her. They became motifs in her still lifes along with fruits, a coffee grinder and other everyday objects. She painted tiled stoves, a garden chair, interiors and human models. She saw herself as a portrait painter. She only wanted to portray close relatives whom she knew well.
She visited Egypt as early as the 1920s, with her mother and siblings. She was enamoured of the country and in 1964 during a new trip she made a number of sketches that were later painted to become Egyptian pictures. These were shown in Kalmar.
Her mother died at the end of that same year. She had inherited Sirishov and had it as her permanent home since her husband’s death many years earlier. Now Sigrid Aminoff was the heir to the villa. When she was sorting her mother’s clothes, she discovered elegant ladies’ outfits from late empire until the beginning of the 1930s, saved in the attic and cellar. Sigrid Aminoff allowed them to be displayed in a big article in Dagens Nyheter. She moved to her shabby childhood home and had it renovated for her inheritance money. In an annex called Stallet she had her atelier during the winter months but in the summers she painted out of doors or in the dining room, where white screens were installed to provide better light. The mornings were spent in painting and later she worked in the garden as long as she had the strength for that.
In the 1970s, close relatives moved into Sirishov but Sigrid Aminoff continued to have the use of the ground floor. She painted and had exhibitions. De Unga and Galerie St Nikolaus showed her oil paintings, drawings and water colours, and in 1992 it was time for Galerie Connaisseur in Stockholm. There the public could see among other things armfuls of sunflowers, classically beautiful pots in still lifes and a landscape with a view over Djurgårdsbrunnsviken in a pink morning mist. There were distant landscapes from her travels to Tuscany, Spain and Egypt, of which most were painted in the late 1980s and the 1990s.
In 1989, Sirishov was finally sold to Sigrid Aminoff’s maternal granddaughter, but she herself retained parts of the house at her disposal until her death. She is represented by the picture Mor Och Barn in aquatint in the Kalmar museum.
Sigrid Aminoff died in 1994 at 90 years of age.