John Bauer art prints on Mythopoetic
Swedish artist John Bauer, illustrator of Scandinavian folklore, mythology and fairy tales on Mythopoetic

John Bauer

Jönköping, Sweden

John Albert Bauer was a Swedish painter and illustrator of folklore and fairy tales. His work is concerned with landscape and mythology, but he also composed portraits. He is best known for his illustrations of early editions of Bland tomtar och troll (Among Gnomes and Trolls), an anthology of Swedish folklore and fairy tales.


Bauer was born and raised in Jönköping. At 16 he moved to Stockholm to study at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. While there he received his first commissions to illustrate stories in books and magazines and met the artist Ester Ellqvist, whom he married in 1906.


He travelled throughout Lappland, Germany and Italy early in his career, and these cultures deeply informed his work. He painted and illustrated in a romantic nationalistic style, in part influenced by the Italian Renaissance and Sami cultures. Most of his works are watercolors or prints in monochrome or muted colours; he also produced oil paintings and frescos. His illustrations and paintings broadened the understanding and appreciation of Swedish folklore, fairy tales and landscape.


When Bauer was 36, he drowned, together with Ester and their son Bengt, in a shipwreck on Lake Vättern in southern Sweden.