18C Scandinavian Hand Painted Pine Chest

18C Scandinavian Hand Painted Pine Chest.


This is an 18th Century, pitched pine and GORGEOUSLY hand-painted, Scandinavian Chest or Trunk.

Its Country of origin is difficult to say for certain….but….in my opinion it originated in one of the Scandanavian Countries….Sweden or Norway.

The ‘glifs’ and style of painting scream ‘Viking’ to me. A mix of gothic and pagan styles.

Scandinavian Immigration

From stereograph, in On the Trail of the Immigrant (1906), by Edward Steiner.
From stereograph, in On the Trail of the Immigrant,
by Edward Steiner, 1906.

Immigration to the US from the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland increased dramatically in the late 19th century, due to mounting economic pressures and overpopulation. In the late 1860s, for example, Sweden was struck by crop failures and famines that stimulated massive emigration. High unemployment and a lack of open land for new farms caused increasing numbers of Norwegians and Danes to emigrate to the US. The Homestead Act of 1862, which gave free land to settlers who developed it for at least five years, was a particular magnet for Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes. Facing internal political instability as well as persecution by the Russian government, Finns in large numbers began to emigrate to the US at the beginning of the 20th century.

Scandinavian immigrants settled primarily in the Midwest. Norwegians favored Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. Danes settled primarily in the agricultural regions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, while Swedes settled across the entire upper Midwest. Finns built their new lives on the farms and lumber mills of the upper Midwest, the mines of the West, and the factories of the industrial Northeast: Michigan was the heartland of Finnish America.

Though not as numerous as German or Irish immigrants, Scandinavians still arrived in massive numbers. 1,000,000 Swedes (1868–1914), 800,000 Norwegians (1825–1925), 300,000 Danes (1820–1920), and 230,000 Finns (1890–1924) forever transformed the culture of the American Midwest.

Link: http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/scandinavian.html

Having regard to the fact that most Scandinavian immigration to the US occurred in the mid 19th Century, I believe that this was an earlier piece probably brought over with an emigrating family from Scandinavia….most likely to somewhere like Wisconsin or Minnesota.

The reason why I am of the firm belief that this is an 18th Century piece is twofold: – (1) the fantastic natural aging on the piece and (2) the existing 2 hinges are more likely to be more 19th Century replacements. The remains of the original iron hinges are still visible on the piece and these type of iron hinges were more commonly used in the 18th Century.and earlier.

The use of blue paint as a base color is typically Scandinavian.

Many of the 19th Century Scandinavian Chests like this were ‘Dowry Chests’ and many had the name of the ‘happy couple’ and/ or year of marriage inscribed thereon. This chest does not, but judging by the intricate hand-painting on it I have no doubt that it was a very special piece to the couple that owned it. The hand-painting is replicated on the side panels as well as the front. The back of the chest is undecorated but bears the remnants of the blue base paint.

At some stage (probably in the late 19th or early 20th Centuries) the interior was lined with wallpaper with a Greco-Roman border. Some of this still exists on the inside of the lid.

The sides of the chest would have originally had 2 iron carry handles and the remnants of one, are on the right hand side.

It still retains its original lock (not functioning) and the front bears the scars from where someone (at some historic stage of its existence) forcibly opened it by chiseling a hole immediately to the right of the lock. This hole only adds to the originality of the piece. Who did it and why? Did it hold valuables? Was it robbed? This chest has its own unique story to tell…..if only it could speak to us!!!


18C Scandinavian Hand Painted Pine Chest.

Provenance: Bought at Auction.

Condition: Overall it is in SUPER original condition. Some minor losses of paint revealing the blue base paint.Otherwise, it is in ‘untouched’ condition.

Dimensions: 24.5″ Tall, 15.5″ Deep and 30.5″ Wide


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