(b. 1851, Stockholm, d. 1906, Stockholm)


Swedish painter, draughtsman and poet. He came from a culturally distinguished Jewish family and trained (1867-76) at the Akademi för de Fria Konsterna in Stockholm. Frequent journeys in western and northern Europe allowed him to copy Old Master paintings, and he studied briefly with Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1874. He copied especially works by Velázquez, Raphael, Titian and above all Rembrandt, whom he took as his principal model both as colourist and as a draughtsman.

After further travel abroad in the late 1870s, Josephson settled in France in 1879 and he lived there until 1888. Up to this time he produced largely historical and biblical subjects in the spirit of the Renaissance. David and Saul (1878; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm) recalls Rembrandt's work in its psychological intensity, achieved through the emphasis on two figures in a dark setting. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1880.

In 1884 he published two articles attacking the teaching methods at the academy in Sweden, he became one of the leaders of the Swedish "Opponents." In 1888 he was hospitalised with mental illness. After his recovery he worked with greater artistic freedom and began moving towards Expressionism.