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International Journal of Architecture and Engineering

Southern light and northern reflections—on einar forseth’s to Sicily
Receiving his Nobel prize in 1923, the Irish poet W.B. Yeats highlighted the Byzantine architectureand mosaic adornment in the new-built City Hall in Stockholm. The architect Ragnar Östberg designedthe City Hall in 1923, and the artist Einar Forseth was appointed to adorn the Golden Hall.One can describe the City Hall, seen from the waterfront, as a colonnade of Byzantine arches, in frontof a basilica-like building, built in brick. Östberg worked in the Swedish National Romantic style, followingthe Arts and Crafts movement’s conception of emphasizing the handicraft. Forseth, in collaborationwith Östberg, chose mosaic for his commission. The Golden Hall is thus covered with morethan 18 million glass and gold mosaic pieces, in Byzantine inspired style. The mosaics depict Swedishhistorical characters and interpret certain events in Swedish history, but the technique, the imaging,and the colours on a gold ground are clearly in Byzantine style with its origins in Ravenna and Sicily.Östberg realized his Grand Tour to Italy in 1896–99, and Forseth his in 1919–21, the latter followed inthe forthcoming years of a number of study trips to Italy. Forseth continued to travel throughout hislife. He was searching the heritage from early mediaeval periods. Forseth’s commission to adorn theGolden Hall, led Forseth and Östberg to expeditions together with August Wagner, head of the chosenmosaic company, to explore, analyze and study the mosaic material and the technique in the historicaland byzantine mosaic basilicas in Venice, Torcello and Ravenna “for the purpose of obtaining,a better insight into mosaic both as an art form and a technique”. After his visit in Stockholm, alsoYeats began to study Byzantine mosaic and architecture. He found a model for the motif of Forseth’smain figure, the Queen of Mälaren in an apse in the Monreale Cathedral in Sicily. In addition, Yeatswrote the poems Sailing to Byzantium (1926) and Byzantium (1930). Forseth in his turn was sailing betweenthe cultures in Italy, Turkey and Sweden – all conjured in the Golden Hall.
pagine: 31-40
DOI: 10.4399/97888548991793
data pubblicazione: Dicembre 2016
editore: Aracne