1850–1900

Par Rittsel 

During the 1850s, the itinerant daguerreotypists introduced new methods as the ambrotype. The style remained however the same. From the glass plates were also made positives on salt or albumen paper. Paper was also tried as negatives. The pioneers appear to have been David Gibson in Gothenburg 1851 and the painter C G Carleman, who was later to be one of the inventors of the halftone block. His first halftone blocks were printed in Swedish magazines in 1871.

The introduction of better negative-positive processes and the carte-de-visite format created a boom.  The number of professional photographers in Stockholm increased from 66 in 1855 to over 200 in 1861. Five years later they were 284. This in a city with 120 000 inhabitants.

The most legendary studio of the era was established by Johannes Jaeger, a German who after a few iterant years settled in Stockholm in 1863. In Gothenburg his equivalent was Aron Jonason The artistically inspired photographers included Frans Klemming, closely related to the school of national romanticism.

While studio photography developed technically, the first amateurs appeared with a freedom to choose their motifs. Carl Curman was a doctor, and the pioneer of the Swedish bathing resort. As a photographer he emphasised the greatness of nature in a romantic style. Painter Severin Nilson was his opposite, using his camera to document the poor and urban slum areas.

August Strindberg tried photography during a few intensive periods. A journey through the French countryside aimed to create a social documentation in a new way, but his disregard for established techniques made the material unusable. Another project to photograph clouds failed for similar reasons. But the existing body of around 60< pictures consists mainly of strong portraits and auto portraits.

The Swedish Tourist Association, STF, was formed in 1885 as a part of a nationalist movement. To help Swedes discover their own country, photographers were invited to portray landscape, wildlife and people in their home regions. A generation of versatile professionals found a reason to get out of the studios and deliver coherent portfolios of cities and countryside.

The signals of pictorialism were rapidly registered in the 1890s. Amateur Gunnar Malmberg and the professional Herman Hamnqvist were the first to introduce the gum bichromate process. The pictorialist era was dominated by photographers as Ferdinand Flodin, John Hetzberg and Henry B. Goodwin, but their main oeuvre was created after the turn of the century.

Mathias Hansen, portrait 1860 on salt paper, studio interior

Frans G Klemming, street scene 1888

Olof Fortmeier in his studio in Växjö,
late 1890s

Ferdinand Flodin at work with a bromoil transfer