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Carl August, Count Ehrensvärd (1745 - 1800)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Swedish naval officer, draughtsman, neo-classical architect and writer. He was instructed in art by the eminent Swedish watercolour painter, Elias Martin ARA. His naval career was broken off by a trip to Italy (1780-82), which resulted in his producing a series of watercolours and writing Resa til Italien, 1780, 1781, 1782 (‘Journey to Italy, 1780, 1781, 1782’) and De fria konsters philosophi (‘Philosophy of the liberal arts’), both of which were published in 1786. They are among the most important books on art published in Sweden in the 18th-century. They reflected the author’s contacts with Neo-classicism throughout Europe, contemporary theories on climate and physiognomy and ideas that constitute an early manifestation of Functionalism.

Influenced by a visit to Paestum, Ehrensvärd made studies of Classical buildings in a Nordic landscape and designs for dockyard buildings at Karlskrona that employ a Greek Doric order of squat proportions. Other works included a series of drawings influenced by English caricature art, parodying the political and moral atrocities of his time. He frequently collaborated with the draughtsman and sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel. He produced a series of wash-drawings entitled Poetens Historia (‘History of the poet’), dedicated to the poet Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna, showing a poet and an artist being trained aesthetically and morally so as to be able to create works to equal those of Classical times.

In 1790, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Born: 5 May 1745 in Stockholm, Sweden

Died: 21 May 1800

Nationality: Swedish

Gender: Male

Works after Carl August, Count Ehrensvärd in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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