Fanny Brate was a genre painter who depicted Swedish nature, folklore, and home interiors. She also painted portraits.
Fanny Brate was born in Stockholm in 1861. Her father was Johan Frans Gustaf Oscar Ekbom, who served as a royal factor for King Oscar II. Her mother was Henriette Alexandrine Dahlgren. Fanny Brate trained as an artist. Like many of her contemporaries she studied at the Kungliga Akademi (Royal Academy) in Stockholm, where she enrolled in 1879. Having completed her studies she travelled to Paris; her first journey there in 1887 was funded by a travel grant. She also travelled to Germany, Denmark, Norway, England, Austria and Italy. When she was 26 years old she married the runologist Erik Brate. They had four children together. Fanny Brate remained an active artist throughout her life.
Fanny Brate displayed her work in exhibitions both in Sweden and abroad. Her work was exhibited in galleries and was also included in major exhibitions, such as the Stockholm Exhibition in 1897 and the Baltic Exhibition in 1914. Her painting Namnsdag, 1902, became widely popular as a reproduction, for example through the journal Jultomten. Her artwork was much loved during her lifetime and towards the end of her life she was described by art critics and journalists as a particularly important portrayer of everyday middle-class environments. As a young artist she was awarded the King’s medal for her 1885 painting Konstvänner, in which the well-dressed and clearly affluent artist is surrounded by poor rural women and children. The painting is bathed in sunlight and, like all of Fanny Brate’s output, reflects an idealised view of life, both in the countryside and at home in the city.
Fanny Brate’s paintings clearly show an awareness of class differences as well as the new trends of the era with regard to views on children and interior décor. Her interiors typically show light colours, thin curtains and old-fashioned furniture often with simple chairs. Her choice of motifs fits in with the aesthetics of the day as typified in Ellen Key’s expression of the benefit of simple and light interior décor, along with the benefits of children who are free to play, rest or sit dreamily staring out of a window.
Fanny Brate died in 1940. She is buried at the Norra cemetery in Solna.