Einar Nerman

Einar Nerman (6 October 1888 – 30 March 1983) was a Swedish artist known for his portraits, book and magazine illustrations and theatrical designs.

Einar Nerman
Nerman, Einar i VJ 51 1916.jpg
Born(1888-10-06)6 October 1888
Died30 March 1983(1983-03-30) (aged 94)
Alma materAcadémie Colarossi
Known forCaricatures and Paintings

Early life and educationEdit

He grew up in a middle-class family in Norrköping with his twin brother, archeologist Birger Nerman, and younger brother, Swedish Communist leader Ture Nerman.[a] Their parents were Janne Emanuel Nerman and Ida Anna Adéle Nordberg.

In 1905 Nerman dropped out of Norrköping Gymnasium High School[b] and enrolled into the Konstnärsförbundets skola in Stockholm. In 1908 he went to Paris to study with Henri Matisse[c] at the Academie Matisse and at the Académie Colarossi. In 1910 he published "Artists"[d] which contained cartoons and caricatures. In 1912 he returned to Sweden to study music and dance at the drama school of Elin Svensson.[e]

The young artist exhibited with the male-only Avant-garde group "De unga" (1907–1911), an association that defied the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. During the 1911 exhibition Nerman's drawings were shown alongside sculptures by Ivar Johnsson, graphics by Artur Sahlén, and miniatures by Fanny Falkner.[f]

He provided illustrations for "The Swineherd" (1912) by Hans Christian Andersen and "Gösta Berlings: pictures" (1916).[g] He also did children picturebooks "Crow’s Dream" (1911), "Stars" (1913), and illustrations for the novel "Short Cavalier stories" (1918) by Selma Lagerlöf.

In 1918 he met Ivor Novello in a night-club in Stockholm who suggested Nerman should draw the stars of the West End of London.

In 1919 he visited London as a ballet dancer, performing in a variety at the London Coliseum. When he discovered that they were to tour the provincial music halls as well, he broke his contract and returned to Sweden.


In 1921 Nerman moved to London to work on a weekly page of theatrical caricatures for The Tatler. He also submitted caricatures of musicians performing at the Royal Albert Hall and elsewhere to the fashionable magazine Eve: The Lady's Pictorial. When his friend Ivor Novello opened the "Fifty-fifty" club for theater people, Nerman was asked to decorate the walls.

In 1923 he published the childrenbook "Knight Finn Komfusenfej".

In 1925 he collaborated with Christine Doorman[h] in "Selma Lagerlöf: her life and works in Mårbacka".

He made the illustrations for the 1928 edition of "Thumbelina",[i] by Hans Christian Andersen.

In 1929 he published "Darlings of the gods: in music hall, revue, and musical comedy" to compile his caricatures of theater stars featured in The Tatler since 1922. The same year his caricatures were in "The second minuet" by English composer Maurice Besly, with foreword by British novelist Alec Waugh.

In 1930, Nerman returned to Sweden and bought Hersbyholm, an 18th century house in Lidingö. By then, he and his wife Kajsa Susanne had three children.

During World War II the family relocated to New York City where Nerman was hired by the New York Journal-American to draw Hollywood stars like Joan Crawford and Alfred Hitchcock, among them Swedish friends Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman.[j] In 1939 he published "A trip to gingerbread land".

In 1944 Nerman published "Portraits by Nerman". In 1946 he published "Caricature" and illustrated "Fairy Tales from the North", a collection of fairy tales from Denmark, Sweden and Norway by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen.

In 1950 Nerman returned to Lidingö where he became a member of the Association of Swedish professional illustrators and graphic designers[k]. In 1964 he illustrated "The Goose Girl"[l] by the Brothers Grimm. In 1969 he published "The wedding in Valpköping and other animal tales".[m] He died in 1983.


Nerman acknowledged he was influenced during his youth by oriental artists, Norwegian artist Olaf Gulbransson[n], and Henri Matisse; later on also by Aubrey Beardsley and Ralph Barton.

He made the illustrations for many of the books of Swedish Nobel Prize in Literature Selma Lagerlöf and earned a name in his country for designing all images behind the Solstickan matchbox.[o] He also made many of the artistic book covers for his brother Birger's published writings and wrote songs and composed music to many of his brother Ture’s poems.

In 2020 his portraits[p] of Einar Jolin (1908), Isaac Grünewald (1907), Hanna Maria Sahlström in an interior (1911) were sold at auction.



  1. ^ The father of author and journalist Bengt Nerman
  2. ^ In 1906 he published "Gymnastics: Short tutorial for gymnastic exercises. The book of sports" Björck & Börjesson, Stockholm
  3. ^ The best Matisse ever said of Nerman's creations was "pas mal".
  4. ^ Editors Aktiebolaget Ljus
  5. ^ Swedish actress (1860–1947)
  6. ^ The only woman who ever joined the exhibition.
  7. ^ The novel saga by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf
  8. ^ Also known as Christina Doorman (Utrecht, 31 May 1858 – The Hague, 18 November 1941), she was a Dutch writer and translator who sometimes wrote under the pseudonyms Alma and Christine.
  9. ^ New York: The Macmillan Company
  10. ^ One of which was used on a postage stamp in 2005, to conmemorate 100 years of the moviestar's birth.
  11. ^ "In English".
  12. ^ Doubleday (publisher), New York City
  13. ^ Editors were B. Wahlström in Stockholm.
  14. ^ In "Caricatures" Nerman praises his drawings for the satirical German magazine "Simplicissimus"(p. 15)
  15. ^ In 1936 Nerman was commissioned to design the label for the box. He draw his own son above the text "For the benefit of children and the old". The idea was to contribute a few pennies to the Solstickan Foundation which helps disabled or chronically ill children.
  16. ^ Coal, chalk and watercolor on paper laid on panel


  • Einar Nerman: "Caricature", Holme Press Incorporated, 1946.
  • Sandy Wilson: "Caught in the act", George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd, Great Britain 1976.
  • Maria Nikolajeva, Carole Scott: "How picturebooks work", Psychology Press, 2001, p. 60.
  • Elina Druker, Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer: "Childrens books in the avant-garde", John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2015, pp. 45, 49, 62 & 63.

External linksEdit