A New Old Portrait of Emanuel Swedenborg (1817)

bredasmall.jpgSometimes a museum can make a great “addition” to its collection by researching, restoring, and appreciating anew an object in its own storage rooms. Such is the case with a 189-year-old oil painting of Emanuel Swedenborg by Carl Fredrik von Breda, one of Sweden’s great portrait artists, recently “rediscovered” in storage at Glencairn Museum. 

The conservation of this painting has raised some baffling questions. The conservator had suggested that several areas of repainting be removed from the surface. When this was done, three of the buttons on Swedenborg’s blue coat disappeared, and a special insignia, the Order of the Polar Star (Nordstjärneordern), appeared on his chest! Why were the three bottom buttons added, and by whom? And why was the Order of the Polar Star, an important feature present in the original portrait, later painted over?

For a possible solution to the mystery of the disappearing—and reappearing—Order of the Polar Star, read the complete article here.

Note: A 19th century oil painting of Swedenborg based on the original 1817 portrait by Carl Fredrik von Breda is pictured and discussed in the article at the above link. The Glendale New Church in Ohio is no longer able to care for it, and it needs a new home. For more information please contact Rev. Clark Echols, Pastor.

December 6, 2006 | Posted by: Ed Gyllenhaal in New Church History Fun Fact