With the Winter Olympics in full swing, I thought it might be fun to share this carte-de-visite portrait of a young man holding a pair of ice skates in Uppsala, Sweden. Nineteenth-century images of people dressed specifically for winter sports are relatively rare. Because of the limitations of early cameras and photographic processes, such portraits were more often made in a studio than outdoors.
The back of the carte has an inscription in Swedish which I can only partially make out. It includes a name which might be Axel Nevelius, but I’m not sure. Maybe a kind reader in Sweden can translate?
The studio is identified on both the front and the back as belonging to Joh. Sterner. The Swedish website DigitaltMuseum lists his name as Johan Sterner (1866-1936). The Swedish genealogy website Rötter (“Roots”) gives his name as John Sterner. Maybe his legal name was Johan but he went by John? Both websites display numerous examples of his work.
Historical evidence suggests that ice skating first appeared in southern Finland more than 4,000 years ago. In China, according to a 2013 article in People’s Daily Online, its history dates back to the Song dynasty (960-1279).
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In February 2020 I shared an early studio portrait of a boy wearing ice skates in St. Louis, Missouri. You can see that carte-de-visite in the post titled Dreaming of ice in St. Louis, Missouri.