Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf

Karin Margaretha Louise Lagerlöf

Professor emeritus

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Arbetar vid Institutionen för kultur och estetik
Besöksadress Frescativägen 22B-26
Postadress Institutionen för kultur och estetik 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf is Professor of Art History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University.


She is engaged in research and as tutor for PhD students. She is specialized in art theory and theory on interpretation, in relation to specific cases of art analysis. In her works, she faces the theoretical challenges of understanding art, through the acts of interpretation. She has explored various fields of art: from Antiquity to the contemporary art scene. A larger part of her writings concern the Early modern era, the classicist perspectives and the strong impetus of change and innovation in this period (not least the classicist ideas as aspects of innovation). She deals with power symbolism in relation to crisis and risks on the peaks of power, in decorations manifesting supreme power.

As a theorist, she explores ‘performativity’ as a mode of interpretation. She uses the concept of ‘performativity’ to convey the process, functions, and effects when the artworks show themselves as meaningful and expressive.

As a senior advisor to the Vice-Chancellor she works to bridge the university and the contemporary art world. She has a close collaboration with Magasin 3 Stockholm konsthall.

She is a member of Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien (The Royal Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities). She is also the founder of the scholarly network Barockakademien.

Her main works are the following:


Fate glory and love

Fate, Glory, and Love in Early Modern Gallery Decoration Visualizing Supreme Power
Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2013

(Studied decorations in this book are: Galerie François Ier at Fontainebleau, Galleria Farnese in Rome, Galerie des glaces at Versailles and Karl XI:s galleri in Stockholm)

Visual parameters are analysed in relation to subject matter and power claims. The visual expressions sustain the rhetoric of power, but they also convey undercurrents that are not included in the rhetorical message – situations or conditions of risks and crisis.



Inlevelse och vetenskap – om tolkning av bildkonst (Empathy (Subjectivity) and Scholarly Claims – on Interpretation of Visual Art) Stockholm:Atlantis, 2007

This is a theoretical exploration of art interpretation with examples from the early Renaissance to the contemporary art scene.






Sculptures of Parthenon

The Sculptures of the Parthenon, Aesthetics and Interpretation, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000

The leading idea of the Parthenon book is the visual expressiveness of the imagery on each level of the temple: the pediments, the metopes, and the frieze. The interpretation of the visual evidence entails the understanding of a linked imagery, with three distinct 'idioms' and overlapping characteristics on the three levels: features that appear as 'shared' and yet as differentiated, since they were adapted visually to the specific requirement of each level. This chain of expressive features is interpreted as linked to existential conditions (the sense of history for instance) pertaining to the Athenian super power in its relations to the gods.


Ideal Landscape

Ideal Landscape - Annibale Carracci, Nicolas Poussin, and Claude Lorrain, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990

This book treats a selection of leading examples of seventeenth century 'classical landscape'. The idea is to find a method to explore the experiential and perceptual character of the paintings. The paintings are analysed through subsequent interpretive constructions of four 'filters' that were characteristic for the intended audience's expectations: 1/the scenographic model for image composition (with foreground, middle ground and background, and significant actions of protagonists answering the demands of istoria) as prerequisites for a prestigious work, allowing the 'low key' image type 'landscape' to merge with the higher level type 'history'; 2/rhetorical ideas on genre, vividness, and effects of expressions, pertaining to art theory of the period, through the influence of Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and other classical sources; 3/ Utopian themes matching the dream of the 'ideal', in interplay with traditions regarding the 'Golden Age';4/ and, finally, the questions concerning metaphysical suggestions in the representation of nature.

Senast uppdaterad: 25 september 2020

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