Stina Beck-Friis was an artist and book illustrator. Her illustrations for the book Sörgården (1912) by Anna Maria Roos constitute her best known work.
Christina (Stina) Beck-Friis was the ninth of eleven children. They all grew up at Börringekloster castle in the southern Swedish province of Skåne. The castle had to be built onto in the 1870s on account of the many children. Their mother was named Christina and this was apparently the reason why the daughter was called Stina throughout her life.
In 1938, Stina Beck-Friis and her brother Joachim recounted their childhood memories in an article in Fataburen. The result was a detailed description of life at a southern Swedish castle during the second half of the 1800s. The big household with its many servants, their everyday life and work are vividly described, even though most of the details are to be found in the stories about the children’s and young people’s pleasures. The children’s close relationships with some of the servants are also described, as well as the fastidious routines for at which age the children were permitted to take their meals with the family. When the siblings reached the age of twelve, they were served their first birthday cakes. In this article, Joachim and Stina Beck-Friis paint a picture of growing up in a warm, closely knit group of siblings, and also of how even the young adults sometimes participated in their games. The children put on theatre shows for the adults’ guests from an early age, afterwards performing spontaneously for the kitchen servants. When they had reached their teens, their social life with other young aristocrats in the district was extensive. Dances and excursions to the various castles and manor houses were regular features, but it was also self-evident that special occasions like Christmas were to be celebrated in the bosom of the family.
During their youth, schooling took place at the castle for those still living at home. The day started with morning prayers at 9.30. Stina Beck-Friis was confirmed in Stockholm, where her father was a member of parliament. After that, she was presented at court and participated in that season’s society balls. During her youth, she underwent a comprehensive art education. In the 1870s and 1880s, she studied art with Thekla Hasselquist and Kerstin Cardon. She then continued her studies with the Danish figure painter Hans Peter Lindeburg in Copenhagen and the French animal painter Gaston Guignard in Paris. She also undertook study trips to Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
Several of her siblings lived in Stockholm as adults, and sometimes they were sent a magazine entitled Södern that was written and illustrated by those of the family still living in the castle in Skåne. Most of the contents of the magazine were produced by Stina Beck-Friis, with scenes from the daily life of the family.
After her father’s death, Stina Beck-Friis and her mother moved to Svedala in 1899, since the oldest brother Corfits had inherited Börringekloster castle as well as the title of duke.
Stina Beck-Friis’ artistic production was extensive. She illustrated story books and Christmas magazines and painted portraits and landscapes. Her most important genre was watercolours. Apart from her involvement in artistic work and within the family, Stina Beck-Friis was active in the Börringe church needlework association of which she was at one point the chairwoman.
Stina Beck-Friis died in 1954 at 89 years of age.