Recognizing a treasure

Birger Sandzén is one of the greatest Swedish-American artists.  

  • “Loch Vale at Sunset Rocky Mountain National Park“ by Birger Sandzén
  • Birger Sandzén's works are found, among other places, at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas. The artist, born in Sweden, spent his entire career teaching at Bethany College in Lindsborg, which is close to his American wife's hometown of McPherson, Kansas. Other important museums that feature his work are the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City, Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois and Kansas University.
    Art can be like a faithful dog, following its owner to whatever unexpected spot the owner turns up. Such a case is the 1930 oil painting by Sandzén which is now in the proud possession of the Sonoma County Museum of Art in Santa Rosa, California.

  • “Loch Vale at Sunset Rocky Mountain National Park“ was in the collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts in Michigan until it was deaccessioned to Goodwill Industries in Detroit in 1970. It was acquired by the lucky thrifter Alan Lant, and it went with him to Santa Rosa. He apparently enjoyed if for many years before he donated it to the Sonoma County Museum in 2011. The work is 20”x 24” and is a typical motif for Sandzén—showing water, gnarled trees and rocks in the iridescent pink setting sun. This color is one of the most characteristic features of Sandzén’s work. It does not show the sunset itself, but it is reflected behind the artist on the clouds and sky. The lakeshore is reflected on the water in quick vertical strokes, also a characteristic motif.

  • The Sonoma County Museum is very proud of its handsome Swedish-American treasure. If you contact them in advance they would be happy to let you see this beautiful art work.

  • James M. Kaplan