I had a walk round the streets by the hotel after breakfast and discovered a couple more examples of what seems to be common in Stockholm art nouveau buildings: a monumental tower that rises directly from the front plane of the building. Sometimes it’s a corner tower and sometimes – like the old post office or the theatre – a central tower. I would expect to find a fancy gable in other cities. The two buildings above faced a truncated rocky outcrop which had – presumably – been subject to Nobel’s invention.
Then a quick view of the 1904 Centralbadet, which had a wonderful exterior, but its many functions left room for only a small swimming pool. There was a little surprise outside on the cellar lights.
Then on to the Vasa Museum to see the salvaged wooden ship which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. With its long bowsprit, it put me in mind of a fossilised narwhal. It’s very long, very tall . . . and very narrow. It also carried 48 very heavy cannons on two decks. The first gust of wind unsteadied it and the second blew it over to an angle of 12 degrees. Water poured in through the open cannon ports, and the Vasa sank before she’d left Stockholm. The astonishing thing when you look at it is that anyone thought those proportions would work. However, that’s what the king wanted . . .
Next was the Nordic Museum, where I wandered around the Swedish folk art and home sections for a pleasant half hour. Red seemed to be a favourite Swedish colour; I don’t know if this is because it was the easiest dye to obtain or/and it’s a warm colour. Josef Frank cropped up again in 1950s interior designs.
Finally, having left the rest of the group, I walked along Djurgården to Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, which is the house he had built for himself and bequeathed to the nation. I’d seen his frescoes and designs in the City Hall and wasn’t totally convinced that he’d got the commission on merit. I liked his landscape paintings in the gallery, though, and I was taken by the house and the way he had mixed comfortable contemporary furniture, Swedish art and odd bits of Second Empire stuff. It seemed to echo what I had taken from the Josef Frank exhibition yesterday: that a home or an interior arises organically with a feel for comfort and contingency, rather than being imposed as a Gesamtkunstwerk.
Back to Copenhagen early tomorrow. I had decided against travelling back this evening because I hadn’t wanted to miss the scenery . . . Hmph!