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Vädersol Painting : ‘Sun Dog’ Phenomenon

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On April 20, 1535, an atmospheric optical phenomenon known as the “Sun Dog” was observed over Stockholm.

The painting that depicts the event was named “Weather sun”) (in Swedish: Vädersol) and is considered the oldest depiction of Stockholm in color and the oldest Swedish landscape painting and the oldest depiction of sun dogs.

The original painting, which was produced shortly after the event and traditionally attributed to Urban målare(“Urban [the] Painter”), is lost.

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17th century painting of Stockholm, a copy of the so called Vädersolstavlan, depicting a halo display event in 1535. Image via wikipedia

However, a copy from 1636 by Jacob Heinrich Elbfas held in Storkyrkan in Stockholm, is believed to be an accurate copy and was until recently erroneously thought to be the restored original. It was previously covered by layers of brownish varnish, and the image was hardly discernible until carefully restored and thoroughly documented in 1998–1999.

The painting was produced during an important time in Swedish history. The establishment of modern Sweden coincided with the introduction of Protestantism and the break-up with Denmark and the Kalmar Union. The painting was commissioned by the Swedish reformer Olaus Petri, and the resulting controversies between him and King Gustav Vasa and the historical context remained a well-kept secret for centuries.

During the 20th century the painting became an icon for the history of Stockholm, and it is now frequently displayed whenever the history of the city is commemorated.

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