'Should I die....I believe that the home will carry on just as well as it has always done, although not just in the same way. But then it wasn't the same yesterday as it was today. A home is not dead but living, and like all living things must obey the laws of nature by constantly changing. At least it can have a long life before finally coming to an end. I would like to think of my home passing through the generations...' (C. Larsson, At solsidan (On the Sunny Side), 1910).
Carl Larsson's quote from his book At solsidan (On the Sunny Side) was more prophetic than he could ever have imagined, for not only have his watercolours been popular, but the home that he created with his wife Karin, Lilla Hyttnäs, became the most renowned domestic interior in Sweden. Already in the 19th century it was a model for interior design, and it has continued to inspire generations of designers and the increasing international appreciation of the Swedish style in interiors and design today.
Following the success of the Et Hem (A Home) series of 1899, Larsson continued to paint scenes from his everyday idyllic family life in Sundborn. The powerful appeal stemmed from the perfect conjunction of style and content combined with a distinct narrative detachment. At the same time, they boast a descriptive yet highly decorative quality, intimate yet generalised, inviting the viewer to project their own family life into the scenes the artist has so carefully set. Instantly accessible there is an intense reality that retains a certain dream-like quality throughout, however banal a location or everyday an activity.
Day is Done, Good Night! is a particularly interesting scene set by the artist in the dining room of Lilla Hyttnäs. Larsson considered mealtimes to be the most important time for the family to socialise together, a somewhat modern approach to family life (many adults would not dine with their children at the time) so for him, the dining room was the most important room at Lilla Hyttnäs. Despite the rampant activity that the room experienced on a daily basis, Larsson kept this work free of the main protagonists. Although he and Karin are not depicted in person, they are certainly alluded to. Focusing upon the quieter, more intimate moments that he and his wife shared at the end of the day, the couple and their creative union are there if not in body, certainly in soul; the book and pencil and the cloth and scissors reflect their partnership and the room also refers to them in the cushion and textiles designed by her, and the design of the bench by him. The absence of the family is what makes this particular work unusual in the artist's oeuvre and suggests a deeper inner contentment within the family unit at Sundborn.
This work was reproduced at the end of At solsidan. It is unclear whether the artist himself removed his own hand and original signature or whether it was done at a later date.