The Svea Larson Endowment Fund

Svea Larson lived in Getinge and left her estate to the museum when she died. The Svea Larson Endowment Fund is Hallands Konstmuseum’s veritable golden egg. It makes it possible for us to spend about two million SEK every year to purchase Halland art and crafts. That means we can continually acquire more works for the museum’s collections. It gives us a unique opportunity to create a collection of art that is representative of Halland’s distinctive character. It was Svea Larson’s endowment that made it possible for the museum to acquire the collection of the Halland Art Association in January 2003. Few museums in Sweden enjoy such generous support.

Svea Larson (1907–89)

Svea Larson was born in Getinge on 13 March 1907, ten months after her older sister, Birgit. Her parents, Karl Birger and Elin Larson, ran a sewing shop in the community. They supplemented their income by buying stocks, including shares in the Semb power plant. The family was well off, and both sisters were educated at the girls’ school in Halmstad. Karl Birger Larson was a politically active conservative who held several positions in the local administration, including city council chairman and chairman of the poorhouse system’s board of directors.

Svea and her sister, Birgit, were in many ways each other’s opposite – Svea was shy and withdrawn, while Birgit was outgoing and lively. The sisters were very close, and not just because of the small age difference. They spent a lot of time together and had many friends in common. At the age of twenty, Birgit was afflicted with tuberculosis, and after fifteen years of illness she died in 1942. Throughout Birgit’s illness, her parents devoted themselves to helping their sick daughter, paying for several stays in sanatoriums and the accompanying medical treatment. This required the family to make some sacrifices economically, and while Birgit was away for long periods being treated for her disease, Svea grew increasingly tied to her home and her parents.

Throughout her parents’ lives, they provided for Svea, and she in turn cared for them and helped them run the sewing shop. Svea was also emotionally very dependent upon her parents. One of her friends confided that she was so indecisive that she went home from a seamstress with an unhemmed dress in order to get her mother’s opinion about how long the dress should be. In the early 1930s, her parents secured a spot for Svea in a rural home economics school. The programme did not suit her, however: she had neither the interest nor the aptitude for domestic work and was unhappy there. Later she worked outside the home for a couple of short periods, and she also tried to run her parents’ firm for a time in the early 1950s.

It seems that Svea had no affinity for practical and hands-on pursuits. Instead, she was active in various social organisations and was interested in driving a car and travelling. She liked to play parlour games, and especially cards. In addition, she took a keen interest in literature, and in the 1950s she became particularly interested in psychoanalytical literature. After her parents’ death in 1957, she bought a Steinway grand piano and started taking piano lessons. In the 1960s, she sold the house in Getinge and moved into a newly constructed row house in Halmstad.

Because Svea Larson had such a large and – thanks to wise investment decisions – growing fortune but had no close heirs, she thought a lot about how she would structure her will. Several different options are mentioned in her letters to a friend, including the Red Cross, Save the Children and a library for the city’s youth. Ultimately she decided to donate her fortune to Halmstads Museum (now Hallands Konstmuseum) for the acquisition of Halland art and crafts.

Source: Article by Anneli Palmsköld in Halland 1998/99 (yearbook of the Halland County Museums Foundation).