Collection on Olof Grafström
Scope and Contents
The Collection on Olof Grafström, 1899-1998 and undated, is primarily composed of photocopies of biographical information. The collection also contains photocopied correspondence between the library staff at Augustana College and people interested in Grafström, a letter from Grafström himself, catalogs and newspaper articles about his paintings, and several photographs of Grafström’s work in Lutheran churches. The Collection on Olof Grafström is arranged in the following series:
Biographical Information, 1902-1916 and undated (photocopies) Newsletter and Newspaper Articles, 1981-1987 Correspondence, 1932-1998 Catalogs, 1899-1904 and undated Photographs, 1988 and undated Miscellaneous, 1977-1982 and undated
- Creation: 1899-1998 and undated
Language of Materials
English and Swedish
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
Conditions Governing Use
Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.
Jonas Olof Grafström (Grafstrom) was born 11 June 1855 in Attmar, Medelpad, Sweden into a well-to-do farming family. His father, C. P. Grafström, was a judge for the district court. As a young boy, Grafström loved to spend time outside, and showed an early artistic talent. Grafström’s father wanted him to become a farmer but eventually conceded to Grafström’s passion for art. He allowed Grafstrom to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, where he studied from 1875 until 1882. At the Academy, he became fast friends with other notable Swedish artists such as Anders Zorn, Richard Berg, and Johan Tirén. After graduating, Grafström traveled around Sweden, painting landscapes and portraits. He studied under Per Daniel Holm, who helped him develop his Romantic style. He received many commissions, one of which, Motif from Kvikkjokk Valley (1882), was purchased by King Oscar II of Sweden.
Grafström immigrated to Portland, Oregon in June 1886, possibly because of financial reasons. He continued to paint portraits and landscapes influenced by Swedish motifs, but also painted frescoes and religious pieces. During the next few years, he also lived in Spokane, Washington, and San Francisco, California. He was awarded medals in several art competitions and sold many of his paintings in exhibits. From 1893 until 1897, Grafström taught in the art department of Bethany College, Kansas. While there, he primarily painted landscapes.
In the fall of 1897, Grafström left Bethany College to teach at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. He became the head of the art department, and remained at the school for 29 years. He was extremely productive while at the college, painting between two and three hundred pieces. Most of these paintings were altarpieces for Augustana Synod churches in the Midwest, but Grafström continued to paint landscapes and portraits, as well as riverscapes. He also found time to give private lessons.
Grafström married Anna Elvira Nelson of Galesburg, Illinois, 15 June 1904. She was also originally from Sweden, and had artistic talent as well. Anna mainly painted china and watercolors. They had two children together. The first, Ruth, was born in 1905 and eventually became a successful illustrator. Her younger sister, Katarina, was born in 1907 and had an artistic proclivity as well.
Grafström’s career at Augustana College was brought to an end in June 1926, when he suffered a heart attack. He decided to retire and moved back to Sweden. Grafström continued to paint in Matfors, Medelpad until his death on 30 March 1933 in Stockholm.
0.2 Cubic Feet (/ 1 box)
Jonas Olof Grafström was an accomplished Swedish American artist active in the Midwest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was known for his landscape paitings, portraits, and altarpieces. The Collection on Olof Grafström, 1899-1998 and undated, primarily consists of photocopies of biographical information. The collection also contains photocopied correspondence between the library staff at Augustana College and people interested in Grafström, a letter from Grafström himself, catalogs and newspaper articles about his paintings, and several photographs of Grafström’s work in Lutheran churches.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Most of the documents were collected from various sources in the library. Photographs received from Lois Johnson, June 1988. Slide received from John M. Telleen, September 1975.
Existence and Location of Originals
Most materials in this collection are photocopies. Location of the original documents is unknown.
Processed by Rebecca Hopman, 2010. Revised by Atticus Garrison, May 2016.
- Collection on Olof Grafström, 1899-1998 and undated.
- Atticus Garrison
- May 2016
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository
639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States