Hieroglyphiskt i Stockholms slott omkring 1900
Title: Hieroglyphs in the Royal Palace in Stockholm about 1900
This paper deals with some themes composed by and for King Oskar II in the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Three paintings in the ceiling of the King’s staircase depict Society and Sweden, the Cosmos and the Transfiguration. They were executed during 1890–1894 by Julius Kronberg and their themes were chosen by the King himself. The paintings were supplemented with a number of sculptures with associated motifs. Oskar II was the Grand Master of the Swedish Order of Freemasons and all these objects may be interpreted as conveying masonic messages in the form of symbols, or hieroglyphs, i.e. emblems with at least one covert meaning, intended only for the initiated. Oskar II used the star and the anchor, syncretized masonic symbols of Divine Light and Hope, as his personal emblem. In his private dining room there is also a chandelier in the shape of a royal crown hanging from a holder in the form of a five-pointed star and an anchor. Divine Light, symbolised by the star or the sun, is a central concept of freemasonry and its presence in the Transfiguration can be compared to a painting in a small cabinet, decorated in 1795 according to the directions of Charles XIII, Oskar’s predecessor as Grand Master. It obviously depicts the mysterious vacatio when the soul is able to observe the Divine Light. Another parallel is found in a proposal for a monument from around 1820 in which Charles XIII protects the Swedish crown with his shield, the blazon of which combines the sun and the anchor.