Inside the Magical World of a Victorian Mansion Filled with Antiques

Imagine having such a large collection of porcelain antiques that you need a separate room to keep it all.

And imagine the same for silver, and you have some idea of the life of Wilhelmina von Hallwyl (1844 – 1930), sole heiress to a wealthy Swedish timber-merchant.

The Porcelain Room
The Porcelain Room
The Silver Room
The Silver Room

Sweden is dominated by forests—and timber was big business in the 19th century. Wood was needed for fuel, construction, the iron and steel industry, shipbuilding, and pulp and paper industries. It helped transform Sweden from an agrarian society into an industrialized nation.

1865 Portrait of Anna Fridrica Wilhelmina von Hallwyl at 21 years old
1865 Portrait of Anna Fridrica Wilhelmina von Hallwyl at 21 years old

Married at the age of 20, Wilhelmina’s Swiss-born husband, Count Walther von Hallwyl (1839–1921), took over the lumber business from her father, allowing Wilhelmina time to indulge her passion for collecting art and antiques.

Wilhelmina was the consummate collector. From her travels around the world, she amassed enough artifacts to fill a house. In fact, she did fill a house—the Hallwyl’s own city mansion. Even the attic had to be converted into a gallery to house her paintings.

The Picture Gallery
The Picture Gallery

Upon her death, Wilhelmina gave back to society—donating her entire house and its contents to the Swedish state. It took eight years to catalogue around 50,000 objects, covering 79 volumes in print.

Wilhelmina von Hallwyl
Wilhelmina von Hallwyl

The house remains as it was when Wilhelmina and her family occupied it. The collections of art, antiques, furniture, textiles and a whole array of everyday household objects used by the family and servants, is just how she left it.

Let us enter the world of Wilhelmina as it was in 1865 …

She wore this dress for the oval portrait above and had been married only a few months at the time. Having traveled extensively with her parents, at 21, she already had a substantial collection of art and antiques.

The dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
The dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Detail of the dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Detail of the dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Detail of the dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Detail of the dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Detail of the dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Detail of the dress Wilhelmina was wearing for the portrait of 1865
Grand piano in the Hallwyl museum's large salon. Built in New York in 1896 by Steinway & Sons. Case designed by Isak Gustaf Clason and crafted by the carpenter Carl Herman Benckert.
Grand piano in the Hallwyl museum’s large salon. Built in New York in 1896 by Steinway & Sons. Case designed by Isak Gustaf Clason and crafted by the carpenter Carl Herman Benckert.
The Dining Room
The Dining Room
The parlour room
The parlour room
The Smoking Room
The Smoking Room
A guest bedroom
A guest bedroom
Another bedroom
Another bedroom
This bedroom even has en-suite facilities
This bedroom even has en-suite facilities
A wash and brush up
A wash and brush-up
Time for tea, or perhaps snaps (same as German schnapps)
Time for tea, or perhaps snaps (same as German schnapps)
Would Wilhelmina have sat here to read or write a letter?
Would Wilhelmina have sat here to read or write a letter?
The kitchen
The kitchen
19th-century baking
19th-century baking
The dumbwaiter
The dumbwaiter
The vestibule
The vestibule
Ornate decoration in the hallway
Ornate decoration in the hallway
Stained glass
Stained glass
The main bathroom
The main bathroom

And now for some of Wilhelmina’s curios …

Late 1700s dog Sculpture from Luneville, France
Late 1700s lion Sculpture from Luneville, France
Trusty Remington typewriter
Trusty Remington typewriter
A shaving kit
A shaving kit

Brooch—gold with pearls, in the form of a bird's nest on a branch with rich foliage of lobed leaves.
Brooch—gold with pearls, in the form of a bird’s nest on a branch with rich foliage of lobed leaves.
Gift to Walther von Hallwyl on his birthday January 26, 1857 from his parents.
Gift to Walther von Hallwyl on his birthday January 26, 1857 from his parents.
Cufflinks with case of gold enamel and rose diamonds. The "W" and "E" initials are probably for Wilhelmina and their two daughters—Ebba and Ellen. The third daughter, Irma, probably wasn't born at the time.
Cufflinks with case of gold enamel and rose diamonds. The “W” and “E” initials are probably for Wilhelmina and their two daughters—Ebba and Ellen. The third daughter, Irma, probably wasn’t born at the time.

lossy-page1-1280px-Dokumentation,_utställningen_-Silver_och_smycken_till_vardag_och_fest-_år_2006_-_Hallwylska_museet_-_85808.tiflossy-page1-800px-Garnityr,_armband._Foto_till_boken-_Ett_sekel_av_dräkt_och_mode_ur_de_Hallwylska_samlingarna_-_Hallwylska_museet_-_89388.tiflossy-page1-1280px-Garnityr,_halsband._Foto_till_boken-_Ett_sekel_av_dräkt_och_mode_ur_de_Hallwylska_samlingarna_-_Hallwylska_museet_-_89392.tiflossy-page1-800px-Garnityr,_örhängen._Foto_till_boken-_Ett_sekel_av_dräkt_och_mode_ur_de_Hallwylska_samlingarna_-_Hallwylska_museet_-_89381.tif

A small sample of Wilhelmina’s art gallery …

Portrait of a Two-Year Old Girl by Jan Cornelisz (1636)
Portrait of a Two-Year Old Girl by Jan Cornelisz (1636)
Proposal by Axel Kulle. Wilhelm bought this painting directly from the artist in Paris in 1881
Proposal by Axel Kulle. Wilhelm bought this painting directly from the artist in Paris in 1881
A Merry Company by Anthonie Palamedesz, 1633
A Merry Company by Anthonie Palamedesz, 1633

For a complete look at the gallery and the rest of the museum, why not take a virtual tour.

Popular Posts

References
Wikipedia
hallwylskamuseet.se/sv

David James

David James

I'm an Englishman in Boston. History is a joy—it binds us, it connects us, it guides us. I'm interested in making history more accessible and more fun. Join me on this fantastic voyage through time.