The sculptor Carl Johan Dyfverman 1844-1892

His ancestors being native of Holland and coming to the west coast of Sweden in the 18th century, Carl Johan Dyfverman grew up as a poor fisherman´s son on the island of Malö , having one sister.

During many years at sea, as a sailor, he liked to carve tree, making small figures. He met several shipwrecks, one outside the coast of England where he fought for his life many hours before being rescued.

At 23 he must choose between the sea or taking up studies in sculpturing. He is given the advice to do the latter, although he feels he owes his life to God for being saved from the sea. But creating art can also be a way of celebrating the Lord, one of his teacher says.

In Stockholm he receives the education of the Academy of Art, although he is a bit too old.

In the end of the 1870 he establishes his own studio in Sundbyberg, near Stockholm. This is a time when the rich people want to build fancy houses in the heart of the city and C J Dyfverman becomes one of the sculptures who makes the walls and the ceilings of the houses live with figures of the myths and tales of the nordic.

But he also continues – in line of his beliefs- to make sculptors for a lot of churches around Sweden. Perhaps the most famous one is the 24 reliefs of subjects from the Bible for the bronzegate of the cathedral of Lund.

Among other famous sculptures and statues is the four-in-hand (quadriga) on the roof of the old Cirkusbuilding at Djurgården in Stockholm. Also the statue of the world wide famous biologist Carl von Linné, where he as an assistent created two of the smaller figures surrounding Linné, but then did the copy of the main statue that was set up in Chicago commemorating the swedish immigrants, and later signed by the King of Sweden in modern time.

But it was a very different kind of art, that would make him most famous among the ordinary people.

In the year of 1888 when the winter was exceptionally cold, many of the poor people were starving. Being one of the first, he decides to make an exhibition of ice-sculptures in one of the big parks of Stockholm. (There are several photographs of this)

The ice-sculptures were modelled in snow that had been wet and then froze to the right shape. They were placed in simple woodhouses . To enter, the visitors had to pay a fee and this was being collected in favour of the poor. During only two months it was reported that 14 546 swedish kronor was raised. This is a fortune, regarding the value of today. King Oscar II was also impressed and he gave the sculptor one of the finest medals of the country.

These remarkable exhibitions continued until 1892 every winter, in different parks in Stockholm but also in the town of Gävle in the more northern part of the country. In Stockholm the total sum that C J Dyfverman raised is estimated to over 50 000 sw. kronor.

This work, ,unfortunately also had consequences for his health. He got pneumonia and died 1892, only 47 years old. When he was buried in Solna, Stockholm, the church was completely full. At his grave his many friends set up a stone with a portrait in bronze of the artist.

This website is commemorating Carl Johan Dyfverman, as is the ”Society of the sculptor CJ Dyfverman” that was formed among relatives in the year of 1986 and from 2004 hosting this website. But everyone who wants to contribute in its purpose, is welcome to be a member.

Here You can contact us and we are also very thankful for all information You can give us regarding the life and art of C J Dyfverman.

On several pages You can see and read ( in swedish, that is) about his works.

Thank You for Your interest.
Martin Dyfverman.

Leave a reply