Lot 10204
Olympics » 1912 Stockholm
Price realised
60’000 – 80’000 EUR
Auction date
Tue 4 Jun 2019 at 10:00 (Europe/Zurich)

1912 Stockholm set of 16 Official Posters, each 75 x 106cm (29.5” x 41.7”), designed by Olle Hjörtzberg, Swedish Professor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and printed by A. Bortzells, Stockholm, depicting nude young man waving flags of all he participating nations. The sixteen posters come in the following languages: English, German Swedish, French, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Hungarian, Japanese, Turkish, Greek Bohemian and Chinese which happens to be the rarest as only 350 were printed.Due to the age and size of the posters all have small minor faults including creases and tears. An important and unique opportunity to acquire a piece of Olympic historyThis being the only known complete set of sixteen posters in private hands (it is understood that there are only two other complete sets both being in museums)


On 27 June, 1911, the Swedish Olympic Committee met to adopt a design for the official poster to promote the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games around the world. They determined to accept an artwork sent in by Swedish artist Olle Hjortzberg, of the Royal Academy. A design by Thorsten Shonberg came as runner up, and a proposal by Axel Törneman was placed third.Hjortzberg’s design, which had been sent to the Committee in 1910, was slightly altered to represent the “common goal of the Olympic Games”, instead of the originally intended “march of the nations”, depicting each athlete waving a flag. The motive of the poster, while its artistic merits have been universally acknowledged, was criticised from both an advertising and a diplomatic points of view.It was said then that Shonberg’s design, representing the entrance of a marathon runner into a festively decorated stadium, would have been far more effective, and that the order of various standards shown in the chosen poster might awake discontent and give rise to unnecessary disputes. Moreover, in several public places outisde Sweden, the poster’s exhibition was categorically forbidden for moral considerations. Particularly, in China, the Postmaster General prohibited its exhibition as “being offensive to the Chinese ideas of decency”, and in Holland, a poster hanging at a railway station was confiscated as being “in the highest degree immoral”.The poster was printed by A. Börtzells Tr. A. B., Stockholm in seven colours and with a size of 74.5 cm x 107 cm. The artwork was also used for an advertising stamp, a pamphlet and the general programme.