Lars Gustaf Sellstedt

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Lars Gustaf Sellstedt (Swedish-American, 1819-1911) was a portrait, landscape, and marine painter. He was born in Sundsvall, Sweden, on April 30, 1819. At the age of 11, Sellstedt became a cabin-boy on a Swedish trading vessel until until he immigrated to America in 1834 where he worked as a merchant seaman on the great Lakes. In 1845, he settled in Buffalo, NY and opened a studio where he began his career as a portrait painter. In 1850, he married Louise (née Lovejoy) and they lived in New York City for a brief period of time; she died a few years later in Buffalo from cholera. In 1853, Sellstedt visited Stockholm, but returned to Buffalo and married Caroline (née Scott), daughter of a local physician in 1856. With his newfound social prominence came several high-profile commissions and their home soon became a center of artistic activity. Although primarily self-taught, he was a major supporter of his adopted city’s cultural scene, and was one of the founders, along with fellow painter Amos W. Sangster (Canadian-American, 1833-1904), of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1862, where he served as director and later as president in 1876 and 1877. In 1872, Sellstedt sent his self-portrait to the National Academy of Design where it won a commendation from Daniel Huntington and led to his election as an associate, and by 1875, he became a National Academician. Sellstedt was active in the Saturn and Liberal Clubs of Buffalo. In 1904, he published his autobiography, From Forecastle to Academy: Sailor and Artist and in 1910, Art in Buffalo. He ultimately became, in the words of art historian William H. Gerdts, “the most significant and respected painter of the century in Buffalo.”[1] Sellstedt died on June 4, 1911 in Buffalo, NY and he is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. His landscapes are in the collection of the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. His name is sometimes spelled Lars Gustav Sellstedt.

(Sources:, prior brief biographical information from “The Winterthur Library, whose Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera houses collectible items of Lars Sellstedt.”, and “Mary Towley Swanson, Tangled Web: Immigrant Swedish, Artists’ Patronage Systems, 1880-1940, 2004.”;, brief biographical information and quote [1], “Artists: Lars Gustaf Sellstedt”.)