Goodwin’s beautiful Stockholm

Kornigt gammalt fotografi: en kvinna står på en höjd med utsikt över staden och blickar ned.
Kompaniets terrass, 1918.
Kornigt gammalt fotografi: en äldre version av Katarinahissen med öppna fackverk.
Katarinahissen, 1918.
Kornigt gammalt fotografi: gatukorsning i snömodd, människor gående på gångbanan.
Gustav Adolfs torg, 1918.
Kornigt gammalt fotografi: Människor och en bil tar sig fram i en snöig gatukorsning.
Jacob i tö, 1915.
Kornigt gammalt fotografi: rökmoln från ett ånglok på en bro över vatten i stadsmiljö.
Järnvägsbron, 1915.
Kornigt gammalt fotografi: ett snöigt Norrmalmstorg med spårvagnsspår.
Norrmalmstorg, 1918.

Follow back to early 20th century Stockholm in the iconic images of pioneer Henry B Goodwin.

The exhibition includes about 30 vintage photographs from the handmade masterpiece ‘Our beautiful Stockholm’ from 1920, as well as about 40 images from the City Museum’s own collection in the form of large-screen projections. Through a collaboration with the Swedish Photographers’ Association, the photographer's cameras are also shown to the public for the first time.

February 12—October 2, 2022
Kafévalvet, floor 0. Free admission

Henry B. Goodwin (1878—1931) was an enigmatic figure. With untiring passion he worked in various professions: as a linguist, debater, photographer and author. Towards the end of his life he became an innovative garden expert. Yet his best work was as a photographer, despite spending only a few years in the profession.

Goodwin was born Heinrich Bürgel in Munich. At the age of 25 he gained a PhD in Leipzig on the study of a seven-hundred-year-old Icelandic manuscript. Setting his ultimate sights on Oxford, in 1904 he travelled to Sweden to take up a post as a linguist at Uppsala University. As an Anglophile he changed his name to Henry B. Goodwin.

In 1914, Goodwin settled in Stockholm where he would become Sweden’s foremost photographer. He photographed the city’s cultural figures free of charge. The following year he staged Sweden’s first exhibition of photographic art at the Varia gallery. The exhibition impressed Goodwin’s contemporaries and marked his breakthrough.

In the field of art photography, Goodwin became a daring pioneer. He published books, introduced international photography to an unfamiliar domestic public, and presented work abroad, both his own images and those of colleagues.

Henry B. Goodwin confirmed, like no-one else, that photography was a legitimate artform. Over the years, many people have been captivated by his beautiful photographs and enchanted by his determined personality.

Text: Bruno Ehrs

The book Vårt vackra Stockholm (‘Our Beautiful Stockholm’)

In his desire to depict the growing city, in 1920 Goodwin published Vårt vackra Stockholm, perhaps the most exclusive book of photography ever created in Sweden.

The book was a unique, lavish publication limited to 200 numbered copies. Twenty-five prominent authors and artists were invited to celebrate the city of Stockholm in word and image. The book featured nearly 50 illustrations, 39 of which were photogravures by Goodwin, printed on art paper and pasted in by hand.

The images were taken with a small camera for the era, often a pocket camera, before undergoing a complex printing process. The enlarged photo was retouched and then contact copied to a negative image. After further retouching, the final image was produced. The photographs featured Goodwin’s well-balanced compositions, dark frames, powerful surfaces and balanced tones. The photographs give the charming everyday impression of having been taken on an aimless afternoon stroll. Goodwin’s main passion lay in the expanding districts to the north and east, particularly Lärkstaden, which most resembled the London he adored.

Photogravure printing is a time-consuming craft in which the original negative is copied, retouched and processed in a number of stages. Finally, the positive image is copied onto pigment paper, whose colour is transferred to a coated copper plate, which is then etched. This plate wears easily and provides only a limited number of prints.

Text: Bruno Ehrs

Camera equipment on display

Ida Goodwin donated Henry B. Goodwin’s cameras and other photo equipment to the Swedish Association of Professional Photographers (SFF) in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The equipment has been stored in the SFF archive for half a century. Now, thanks to a unique collaboration between SFF and the City Museum, the objects can go on public display.