Goodwin’s Beautiful Stockholm

Henry B. Goodwin was an early 20th century pioneer of Swedish art photography. In 1920, he published Vårt vackra Stockholm [Our Beautiful Stockholm], a sumptuous anthology featuring Swedish photographers and artists for which Goodwin provided the lion’s share of the illustrations. Liljevalchs’ exhibition celebrates the centenary of the publication of this impressive book.

An enigmatic person, Henry B. Goodwin (1878-1931) worked with tireless zeal in several seemingly incompatible professions. First as a learned linguist, then as a fearless opinionator, photographer and writer and finally as an innovative garden expert. However, despite a relatively brief career, it was as a photographer that he made his mark.

From 1915 to 1930, Stockholm photographer Goodwin dominated the Swedish photographic scene with his romantic art nouveau aesthetic.

A bold pioneer in artistic photography, in 1915 Goodwin held the first solo exhibition of fine-art photography in Sweden. He subsequently published numerous photo-books that boosted the self-confidence of an entire profession.

Read also: Pictorialism Transformed Photography into Art

Goodwin introduced international photography to an inexperienced Swedish public and presented his own and his colleagues’ images abroad, cementing the position of photography as a fully-fledged art form, something no one had achieved before. Many have been captivated by Goodwin’s beautiful photographs and enchanted by his determined personality.

In 1920, Goodwin self-published the magnificent volume Our Beautiful Stockholm, the perhaps most lavish and exclusive photo-book ever produced in Sweden. The limited edition of 200 hand-numbered and signed copies sold out in advance.

Goodwin invited 25 influential writers and artists to pay tribute to the city of Stockholm.Of the book’s 50-odd illustrations, Goodwin contributed 39 photogravures, each printed on art paper and pasted in by hand.

Read also: A Sumptuous Anthology in an Extravagant Technique

In early summer 1931, Goodwin fell on the garden steps at his home in Saltsjöbaden and broke his leg. An injury that should have healed in a couple of weeks deteriorated. There were complications and he spent most of the summer in hospital. He grew weaker and weaker and on 11 September 1931 Henry B. Goodwin died, just 53 years old.

Text: Bruno Ehrs