Einar Forseth, born in Linköping, Sweden, in 1892, was an artist whose work has indelibly shaped the course of decorative and applied arts throughout the 20th century. His legacy in the realms of stained glass, mosaics, and even postage stamps serves as a testament to his versatility and creative prowess. Trained at Gothenburg Art School and Stockholm Academy, Forseth’s journey from a student to an eminent decorative artist is rife with diverse influences, global exploration, and an evolving artistic palette that ranges from expressionist to abstract to naive styles.
Early Years and Education
Born to a Norwegian draughtsman and lithographer, Forseth was destined to be in the arts. His formal education began at Gothenburg Art School from 1908 to 1911, followed by a stint at Stockholm Academy from 1912 to 1915. Under the tutelage of Professor Olle Hjortzberg, a renowned church decorator, Forseth found himself drawn towards stained glass and mosaics. It was during these formative years that he laid the foundation for his future works.
A Partnership in Stained Glass
In 1917, Forseth created his first stained glass for Frövi Church, marking the beginning of his illustrious career. However, it was his partnership with Gustaf Ringström that really escalated the profile of his stained-glass works. Since 1918, the duo produced a myriad of pieces that graced churches and cathedrals, becoming a staple in ecclesiastical interiors.
The Golden Room and Beyond
Perhaps one of the most defining moments in Forseth’s career was his collaboration with architect Ragnar Östberg on the Golden Room of Stockholm City Hall. Created between 1921 to 1923, these splendid mosaics exemplify the zenith of decorative art, blending form, function, and symbolism. In 1924, Forseth took his talents to the Stockholm Concert Hall, where he created tapestries, mosaics, and plasterwork that are still admired today.
After 1918, Forseth became a globetrotter, absorbing artistic styles and techniques from different parts of the world. This period of exploration is reflected in the diversity of his works. Interestingly, Forseth was not limited to just traditional forms of art; from 1919, he designed many Swedish postage stamps, extending his influence to everyday items.
Later Works and Legacy
Forseth continued to create throughout his life. One of his most notable later works is the stained glass at the English church in Stockholm (1940) and his significant contributions to Coventry Cathedral between 1951 and 1962, including a floor mosaic at the Chapel of Unity. His stylistic range, from expressionist to abstract to naive, indicates a lifelong engagement with evolving artistic currents.
Einar Forseth’s contributions to the world of decorative and applied arts are multi-faceted. From the solemn aura of stained-glass windows in churches to the radiant mosaics in civic spaces, his works not only decorate but also narrate the complexities of human emotions and cultural dialogues. His artistic journey, characterized by experimentation and diversity, makes him a significant figure in the history of the decorative arts, worth studying and celebrating.
Einar Forseth. (2022, May 20). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einar_Forseth
Jervis, S. (1984). The Facts on File dictionary of design and designers. New York: Facts on File.