About John

John Bauer (4 June 1882 – 20 November 1918) was a Swedish painter and illustrator born and raised in the small town of Jönköping, south of the lake Vättern. At this time, many people believed in elves, fairies and trolls. These beliefs were to inspire John and he came to look upon the deep forests as the home on which he was dependent.

At a young age, he travelled alone to Stockholm to study at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. Here he met fellow artist Ester Ellqvist, a girl who loved parties and the high life of the city. Ester became John’s fairy princess and they married in 1906. Ester’s letters depict the initial ecstasy of their romance, the many ups and downs of their tumultuous relationship, and their periods of breaking up and making up; however, in no way do these prepare you for the tragic ending.

John’s illustrations and paintings greatly increased understanding and appreciation of Swedish folklore, fairytales and the natural world.

John Bauer was awarded the Medal of Honor at the San Francisco World Fair in 1915. The title “The Mountain King” stems from an idea by Russian choreographer Michail Fokin, Swedish Royal Opera, to create an opera inspired by Bauer’s paintings.

Bauer’s pictures continue to be popular at auction. In 2014, one of Bauer’s small gouaches, Humpe in the Troll Forest, sold for 563,500 kronor (about US$64,500), and a watercolour, A Knight Rode Forth, made 551,250 kronor (US$63,000).