Term applied to several workshops of wall painters, active between c. 1400 and the 1460s in the provinces around the lake of Mälaren, Sweden, and in Finland, showing many common stylistic features. Several of the workshops display, to varying degrees, traces of the ‘Beautiful style’ (schöner Stil), the German and Bohemian version of International Gothic, characterized by soft drapery folds and elegant curved figures. Another characteristic feature is a sometimes rather graceful vine ornamentation surrounding the figures. Many of the paintings, however, are of a provincial character. Among the more important painters of this school are the Master of Fogdö (see master of Fogdö; johannes Rosenrod), who signed the paintings in Tensta Church, near Uppsala, in 1437; the Master of Ärentuna (fl c. 1435–40); and the master of the paintings in Litslena Church, which have been dated to c. 1470 but which show stylistic features from the early half of the century. Since most painters of this school are anonymous, very little is known about their origin, although it is likely that some of the painters were Swedish. Stylistically, the Master of Ärentuna has much in common with Master Bertram in Hamburg and may have been German. His paintings are closely related to those in Vaksala and Färentuna, near Uppsala, and in the former Franciscan church in Arboga, Västmanland. The works in the sacristy in Kalanti, Finland, can also be compared with those in Vaksala, while those in Litslena Church, near Uppsala, show stylistic similarities with a number of wall paintings in the area of Uppsala and in Södermanland, for example in Strängnäs Cathedral (1462–3). The artists of the Mälardal school certainly had common roots in Swedish 14th-century wall painting; while their work did show various different stylistic features, these overlapped and make it difficult to isolate an ‘Ärentuna school’ or a ‘Strängnäs school’. The shared stylistic qualities are also, to a certain degree, more characteristic of the period than the region.
From The Grove Encyclopedia of Northern Renaissance Art in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Renaissance Art.