KRAFFT, Per the Elder
(b. 1724, Arboga, d. 1793, Stockholm)


Swedish painter. He was a pupil of the court painter Johan Henrik Scheffel (1690-1781) until 1747 and then of Carl Gustaf Pilo in Copenhagen. Through Pilo he met Otto Thott, the Danish Minister of Finance, who was to be important for his career. Krafft executed several portraits for him (e.g. Count Otto Thott, 1752; Hillerod, Frederiksborg Slot), and in 1755 he was sent by Thott to Paris with a commission to copy 200 paintings after such artists as Hyacinthe Rigaud, Nicolas de Largillierre and Pierre Mignard. He was taught there by Alexander Roslin but was more attracted to the bourgeois and intimate milieu of Chardin's and Greuze's paintings.

Roslin helped Krafft obtain an appointment he himself had once held, that of court painter to Markgraf Friedrich (reg 1735-63) in Bayreuth. Krafft worked there from 1762 to 1764, executing portraits in the elegant manner of Roslin (e.g. Elisabeth Friederike Sophie, Duchess of Württemberg, 1762; Stockholm, Nationalmuseum). He then travelled and studied in Italy for two years and in 1767 became court painter to Stanislav II Poniatowski in Warsaw, where he also painted in Roslin's style (e.g. Princess Isabella Lubomirska 1767).

He returned to Sweden in 1768, became a member of the Kungliga Akademi för de Fria Konsterna in 1773 and was appointed Titular Professor by Gustav III in the same year. In Sweden Krafft painted sitters from intellectual circles, from the lesser nobility and from the merchant class. He also painted his own children. All of these works show the influence of Chardin and Greuze.

His son Per Krafft the Younger (1777-1863) was a portrait and history painter, and his daughter Wilhelmina Krafft (1778-1828) was a miniature painter.

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