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Anna Petrus was a Swedish sculptor, industrial designer and dancer with a unique, powerful artistic expression, renowned for her designs for Svenskt Tenn. She came from a wealthy family in Uppsala and got her education at Chelsea School of Art in London, Althins målarskola and Kungliga Konsthögskolan (Royal Institute of Art) in Stockholm. Following her studies she worked with materials such as granite, marble and iron, inspired by by Greek mythology in her creations. She developed a distinct style, where women from the myths were rendered strong and assertive rather than passive and weak. She was part of a group of female artists, among them Siri Derkert, who fought for space in the conservative and male dominated art world.
She debuted with a set of linoleum prints at the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö in 1914 and again in Stockholm in 1916 with sculptures with her characteristic expression. In 1920 a fire in her studio destroyed most of her works, and became a turning point in her artistic career. Recuperating from the blow, she travelled to Italy and North Africa, looking for new inspiration. When she returned to Stockholm, she started working with pewter, a material that at the time was looked upon as an old-fashioned and base material. She made trays and table tops inspired by North African smoking tables, and soon started collaborating with the influential architect Uno Åhrén around the designs.
Anna Petrus was one of the earliest and most prominent revivers of using pewter in industrial design and her contribution made a big mark. She worked with the firms Herman Bergman’s Konsgjuteri and Svenskt Tenn during the 1920s, creating her iconic sculptural lion designs, many of which are produced by Svenskt Tenn to this day. During this period she was also commissioned several prestigious decorating assignments in collaboration with the architect Carl Bergsten, among others. She withdrew from the design scene in 1930, perhaps due to the emergence of functionalism, that had less room for her dynamic style. However, her artistry has prevailed and is now as highly acclaimed as ever.