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Keywords:

  • Gothicism;
  • history writing;
  • Sweden

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Swedish court militantly promoted its claim to descent from the Gothic tribes described by ancient authors. Although fully entwined in many aspects of court life and well known in the literature, it is familiar as an essentially textual project. The court was fully aware of the importance of visual modes of representation – from portraiture to architecture – and went to great trouble to attract skilled artists to Stockholm, but any perceptible trace of the Gothic claims seems to be absent from their works, which instead meet a fairly standardized international expectation for royal representation. Rather, the visual representation of the Gothic nature of the kingdom is to be found in the representation of northern nature in paintings, prints, and other media. Many official works include a remarkable emphasis on the natural world that was central to the literature, much of which presents the land as formative for the Gothic people. This allowed the court and its monarchs to present themselves within European-wide conventions of representation and simultaneously to frame it within the landscape from which its Gothic heritage arose.