Ski Art: Curt Nyström Stoopendaal (1893-1965)


Curt Stoopendaal was the son of the more famous Swedish painter Jenny Nyström (1854-1946) who made a name for herself portraying Tomte, a Santa Claus figure, on literally thousands of Christmas cards. Tomte, a white-bearded gnome, is always doing the right thing: making presents, fixing things, cleaning stables, pouring milk, making friends with pigs, and all done with a heavy dependence on Scandinavian folklore. Her son, Curt, for the most part followed his mother’s style.

Stoopendaal had begun to study medicine but switched to Althins Målarskola, Carl Althin’s painting school that prepared students for entry to the Konstakademien, the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm. He also studied at Wilhelmson’s painting school before working in advertising and then moving into his own art world. He painted for Axel Eliasson’s Konstförlag, Sweden’s leading producer of postcards. This illustration of a foursome of well-to-do holiday merry-makers was published by Eliasson’s company, headquartered on Drottninggaten, in Stockholm’s old center, and now a
pedestrian way.

The 1936 painting is correct in its ski detail, with skiers in dark colors, as befits serious sportsmen and women. The outfits contrast favorably with the white of the snow, with none of the garish fashion colors of later decades. It appears those long skis, back ends tucked under the spare wheel cover, had to be held in by hand during transport (by skiers in the unheated rumble seat). I have found no advertisements for ski racks. The Swedish sporting-goods company Thule, for example, sold its first car-top ski racks in 1962. The magnificent red of the large sports car gives the impression of wealth.

Stoopendaal got it right: The illustration indicates that Sweden was already moving on from that late 19th and early 20th century ideal of ski-idrott—skisport—to modern skiing.